Statistics about homelessness in Chicago indicate that about one thousand veterans lack housing every night. Additionally, more than 25% of the soldiers returning from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq also experience acute episodes of Post-traumatic stress disorder. Various governmental and non-governmental organizations in the United States generally and Chicago in particular help veterans suffering from PTSD (Drapalskiet al., 2008). For instance, the US National Center for PTSD undertakes continuous studies and sensitization about trauma and PTSD. Its main aim is to ensure that the studies provide the most updated findings of the risk factors for PTSD and ways of fostering permanent recovery, in particular among the homeless veterans.
Despite the fact that the National Center for PTSD does not provide diagnosis and treatment for the condition, the findings drawn from its researcher helps in designing appropriate medical responses. Volunteer of America is another organization that helps veterans to rediscover their abilities and regain productive life after combat life (Drapalskiet al., 2008). It's True North Project for Veterans significantly helps in creating PTSD awareness and proving other forms of social support that are important in the recovery process.At the local level, the Chicago veteran Therapists, psychologists, and counselors help not only in individual counseling but also referring people to nearby treatment centers that offer specialist psychiatrist programs (Drapalskiet al., 2008).
Strengths and weaknesses of veterans in Chicago that would be integral in the formulation of a community health strategy
Despite the ever rising cases of PTSD among homeless veterans in different states in the US, various barriers that must be resolved through a sound community health interventions impede the provision of care after their civilian reentry. These barriers exacerbate the vulnerability of the population which is already at risk (Norris FH, 2013). The risk factors that must be considered in an active community health strategy include ensuing descent housing for veterans, ensuring a seamless transition from combat to civilian life and active engagement of the ex-military in the social and economic building of their communities through government sponsored initiatives.
Research indicate that homelessness, lack of jobs after leaving combat, and family instability are some the factors that increase vulnerability to PTSD and other forms of mental illnesses among the veterans (Drapalski et al., 2008). Facts indicate that the veterans are twice as likely as other American nationals to become chronically homeless. Chronic homelessness compounded with inadequate education and low transferability of their military skills into the civilian lifestyle exposes them to emotional distress, trauma, and PTSD.
The challenges faced by the ex-military officers that increases their inability of accessing care for PTSD can be categorized into three primary problems (Meredith et al., 2006). The challenges include the mandatory requirement that they must have an honorable or general discharge for them to access the benefits due to them from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (Drapalski et al., 2008). They also suffer from the long waiting time within the medical health facilities due to inadequate health care providers, poor booking of treatments, and challenges of transition from active military care to the care system afforded to veterans. The third social barrier to a military culture that emphases on resilience and courage even amidst serious health concerns.
Various options can be exploited to ensure sound mental health among veterans. First, being registered public servants, such personal details can be used to ensure a seamless transition from military health care to private care (Drapalski et al., 2008). Another aspect is to register the veterans into the Department of Veterans Affairs just as they exit service to enable efficient tracking and help, in particular among the homeless ex-soldiers.
Opportunities that exist for improving the health of veterans in Chicago
The availability of personal details of former soldiers within the US Department of Security provides a primary lead for tracking them and ensuring that they receive proper medical care (Meredith et al., 2006). Initiatives such as getting federally-approved injections for ex-combatants suffering from PTSD is one approach that can be used to dramatically improve the health of identified veterans in Chicago (Norris FH, 2013).
The military culture that emphasizes on resilience and courage also provides an opportunity for improving the health of veterans (Meredith et al., 2006). The limitary lifestyle is important as it helps organizations such as Volunteer of America and Chicago mental therapists to improve the ability of veterans to cope with PTSD. Ideally, there is no single proven medication for PTSD hence most of the initiatives are directed towards improving the ability of victims to deal with the condition (Norris FH, 2013). Furthermore, progress in the treatment of PTSD also offers a way to which mental health concerns among the veterans can be addressed. For instance, the DSM-5 Diagnostic criterion categories the symptoms of PTSD into four clusters. This categorization can be adequately used to provide evidence based care.
Barriers that may impact successful implementation of a community health strategy for PTSD veterans in Chicago
The continued overseas military operations of the US soldiers such as in Iraq and Afghanistan implies that the population of PTSD veterans will continue to rise. Without a corresponding expansion of psychiatric services for ex-soldiers, the number of cases of acute PTSD will also increase simultaneously with the population of returnee soldiers (Budrewicz, 2017). Furthermore, inadequate housing policies for the veterans imply their greater vulnerability to homelessness which has a correlation with the development of various health complications including hepatitis C, trauma and depression (Norris FH, 2013).
Collectively, the vulnerabilities exacerbate health deterioration thus undermining the effectiveness of interventions. The reintegration process of former soldiers back into the civilian lifestyle is a long process that often fails among conservative communities. The failure of rehabilitation processes impedes the ability of ex-soldiers to seek continuous mental screening and psychiatric treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Budrewicz, 2017).
Budrewicz, C. R. (2017). Identification and PTSD Screening of Military Veteran Patients in Community Healthcare: A Quality Improvement Project.
Drapalski, A., Milford, J., Goldberg, R., Brown, C., & Dixon, L. (2008). Perceived Barriers to Medical Care and Mental Health Care among Veterans with Serious Mental Illness. Psychiatric Services, 59(8), 921-924. http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.59.8.921.
Meredith LS, Mendel P, Pearson M, et al. (2006). Implementation and maintenance of quality improvement for depression in primary care. Psychiatric Services. 57:4855
Norris FH, Slone LB (2013). Understanding research on the epidemiology of trauma and PTSD. PTSD Research Quarterly. 24(23):113. Available at: www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/newsletters/research-quarterly/V24n2-3.pdf.
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