- By Umar Latif, M.D., FAPA
As a psychiatrist and a proud supporter of those who have served our nation, over the last 15 years I have had the privilege to develop and oversee programs nationally that increase access to psychiatric care for active-duty service members and veterans. In this role, I have come to believe strongly in the need to increase cultural competence for civilian healthcare professionals who provide care to service members, veterans, their families and caregivers.
Psychiatrists in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have the distinct honor of serving America’s veterans and the privilege of practicing in a functional federal healthcare system. While rewarding, the job is simultaneously an experience of perpetual demand to ensure time is most efficiently spent treating a panel of patients within a population-based care model.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects an estimated one in seven adults at some time in their lives and it affects a large proportion of military members and veterans. In addition to the variety of effective treatments available, people often also use complementary interventions, such as the use of trained PTSD service dogs. These service dogs perform specific tasks that help address PTSD symptoms, such as applying pressure to alleviate anxiety and nudging to interrupt flashbacks
The questions and answers below are some adapted from a recent Twitter chat APA hosted on veteran’s mental health.
As we approach Veterans Day and look to honor the work and sacrifices of members of the military and their families, we look at several recent reports on veterans and mental health services.