Veterans' Issues

Whether you’ve just come home from a tour of duty or served decades ago, being a veteran can be a complex experience. Life after the military can be full of exciting opportunities, but it can also come with a number of unique challenges. What’s more, many veterans experience mental health symptoms related to their time in the military, sometimes even years after their service ended.

Read on for more information about common mental health challenges for veterans, and what you can do to cope with them.

Prevalence of mental health challenges for veterans

Research shows that mental health challenges are very common among veterans in the United States. For example, one study found that about 31% of veterans returning from deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan reported having a mental health condition and/or a traumatic brain injury (which can also cause mental health difficulties).

And if you’re a veteran who’s struggling to get support around mental health issues, you’re not alone. The same study found that only 53% of returning veterans who showed signs of PTSD or depression had received care from a mental health professional in the past year.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that suicide is also a significant concern for veterans, with veterans 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than non-veteran adults.

Common mental health conditions for veterans

Serving in the military can be related to a wide variety of mental health conditions. Some of the most common include:

Common challenges that affect veterans’ mental health

In addition to specific mental health conditions, veterans may face a number of challenges that can have negative effects on their mental health. Though these situations vary widely, some common scenarios include:

How veterans can address mental health concerns

If you’re a veteran looking for support around mental health, there are a number of options you can explore.

Best therapy types for veterans

A number of different kinds of psychotherapy can be helpful for veterans.

The best kind of therapy for you will depend on what kinds of challenges you’re facing, so it can be helpful to talk with a healthcare provider as you consider different kinds of therapy. A few kinds of therapy that can be especially helpful for veterans include:

What to look for in a therapist for veterans issues

You’ll want to make sure that your therapist is qualified to treat veterans issues, as well as any specific related mental health problems you may be experiencing. This will usually involve:

Finally, as with any therapy, it’s important to make sure that your therapist is a good fit for your unique needs. Be sure to evaluate the following in your initial calls with therapists: