Veterans Health Programs
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a recurrent emotional reaction to a traumatic event, such as combat and other stressful service-related experiences. Of course, it is normal to have strong emotional reactions to traumatic events, but when symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder persist for months or years after the event has ended and the symptoms interfere with daily living, medical treatment may be needed. Some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are:
- An excessive startle response
- Feeling or acting as if you are still in combat
- Emotional detachment
- Avoidance of things or situations that remind you of the trauma
- Memory loss
- Flashbacks of the trauma
Onset of post-traumatic stress disorder may not occur until several years after the trauma has ended. Another traumatic event, such as a serious car accident or the death of a loved one, can trigger the disorder.
The VA has specialized programs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder that offer education about the disorder, and evaluation and treatment in inpatient and outpatient settings.
There are three types of post-traumatic stress disorder teams for outpatient care:
PTSD Clinical Team (PCT)
Provides outpatient group and individual evaluation, education and psychotherapy.
Substance Use PTSD Team (SUPT)
Offers services similar to PTSD clinical teams but services are geared toward veterans with substance use problems.
Women's Stress Disorder Treat Team (WSDTT)
Offers services similar to PTSD clinical teams but services are geared toward female veterans.
The VA provides Day Hospital PTSD programs in which veterans spend several days a week at clinics where they receive counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. The clinics also offer recreational and vocational activities. Veterans go home at the end of the day, but lodging units are available.
Four types of inpatient programs are available for inpatient care:
PTSD Substance Use Program (PSU)
Provides combined psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse issues for 14-90 days.
Specialized Inpatient PTSD Unit (SIPU)
Provides psychotherapy for 28-90 days that focuses on helping clients heal from combat trauma.
PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Program (PRRP)
Provides psychotherapy for 28-90 days that focuses on helping clients return to a productive life in the greater community.
Evaluation and Brief Treatment of PTSD Unit (EBTPU)
Provides general psychotherapy for a shorter period of time: 14-28 days.