Honor Veterans by Acquiring Support SkillsIs there a military veteran in your life living with an untreated mental health condition? Are you uncertain whether your support is actually hurting more than helping? If so, you are not alone.

Most of us are not inherently equipped with the skills to understand what our loved ones experienced while serving their country through military service. Yet, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 30 percent (PDF) of veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 that have been treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

During the month of November, Care for Your Mind (CFYM) is showcasing an innovative program that coaches loved ones in how to provide healthy support for the veteran in their life.

The goal of this program, called Coaching into Care (CIC), is to provide loved ones with tools that will encourage the veteran to access VA care in the United States. It’s offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Amber Walser, a psychiatrist working for the CIC program, explained in a CFYM post that coaches aim to educate loved ones and friends about PTSD and alcohol and drug misuse so that they can positively interact with the veteran. According to Walser,the goal is to maintain boundaries and not push too hard to get the veteran into treatment so that the veteran will ultimately seek the support and help they need on their own.

Recognizing the stress that the loved one lives with, Dr. Walser stated that referrals are often made to the nonprofit organization Give An Hour, enabling the loved one to obtain their own counseling. With a volunteer pool of over 6,700 psychologists, social workers and other mental health professions, Give An Hour is “dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of the troops and families affected by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Dr. Steven Sayers, the founding Director of Coaching into Care, shared in a second CFYM post that the coaching services for loved ones are free and that this nationwide program is available to take phone calls between 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST. Some of the services that the CIC call responders and licensed mental health professionals provide include

  • Encouragement in coaching the veteran to seek an evaluation
  • Information about how the veteran can obtain services
  • Tips for improving communications with the veteran
  • Suggestions for the loved one’s own self-care

This free service is open to any family member and friend — spouses, parents, siblings, grandparents and children.

I can’t think of a better way to honor the veteran in your life than to acquire the tools that will support him or her in embarking on a journey of healing and wellness.

To learn more about Coaching into Care, Give An Hour and other services to support the mental health of veterans, read the November CFYM posts.