Although the founders of Peer Support Central are veterans of law enforcement, they’re keenly aware that police officers and emergency medical technicians aren’t the only ones who need peer support training and development courses.
When it comes to dealing with the effects of critical incidents and the symptoms of PTSD, no demographic is more visible than the military. Soldiers, even those who aren’t necessarily on the front lines of combat, must deal with stresses that many civilians cannot even fathom.
Without access to the proper peer support training and development courses, many of these veterans are simply told to seek mental health care from traditional professionals, something that many of them are loathe to do.
We’ve often wondered why this reluctance to seek support exists in the military community, as have their families and friends, who experience a similar negative impact. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the reasons that soldiers fail to seek PTSD treatment or drop out of therapy early. We’ll also discuss how increased implementation of our peer support training and development courses can help to augment military training in a way that benefits all veterans and those who love them.
Military Training Often Fails To Cover The Threat Of PTSD
“I think my husband has been suffering from PTSD and depression,” writes a woman on the Military.com forum. “He has even said himself that he has PTSD, but he absolutely refuses to get help with it. His most common excuse is that the treatment doesn’t help.”
In our experience working with veterans of the military and other first responder careers, these statements are all too common. For friends and family members watching events unfold from the outside, it seems ridiculous. If you know you need help, why wouldn’t you seek help?
Unfortunately, you cannot make an otherwise competent adult seek treatment if they don’t want it.
Why Do Military Veterans Think Treatment Doesn’t Work?
So what’s at the root of this refusal for treatment, especially when it seems that many military members know that something is wrong and they’re not dealing with post-deployment stress very well?
Here, according to Military.com, are some of the reasons service members give me for not seeking treatment:
- The perceived stigma related to receiving behavioral health services or speaking to a therapist.
- They believe their colleagues will think they have a “mental problem.”
- They feel like damaged goods
- They think no one will understand what they have experienced.
- They think dealing with PTSD is simply a matter of willpower.
Now let’s take a look at each one of these common excuses and how peer support training and development courses in the military community can help to overcome them.
It’s no secret that many people view those who see a therapist as “weak” or “sick” in some way. This is a stigma that is pervasive through our entire society, not just the military community, but it’s especially strong among industries where individuals are expected to be “stronger” than the average person. Peer support overcomes this stigma because care isn’t provided by “some therapist” but rather by a member of the military community. It’s less like talking to a shrink and more like talking to a well-educated buddy.
Yes, PTSD is a mental health condition, but using this as an excuse to avoid mental health care is nonsensical. Allow us explain using a metaphor. If someone places a glass on a table and smashes it with a hammer, the glass will break. This is the direct result of the glass being unable to withstand the damage inflicted by the hammer, but we don’t blame the glass for this. That’s simply a result of the way it was designed: to hold beverages not withstand smashing.
The same thing applies to military training. It makes no sense to blame oneself for not being able to handle a situation for which you were not designed or at the very least, properly trained. Mental problems are a part of being a human with mental faculties. They must been maintained and repaired when necessary, just like the glass. In a peer support program, veterans are educated about their own mental limitations and how critical incident stress affects them.
One of the reasons that peers support programs are often so successful in retaining military veterans is that they feel understood. Peer support training and development courses are carried out by members of the community that they seek to serve. This means law enforcement officers support other officers, first responders help first responders, and military veterans counsel other military veterans. This removes a huge stumbling block from the mind of the veteran who’s dealing with PTSD. They find comfort in the fact that the person listening to their experiences and offering advice knows exactly what they’re talking about, because they’ve lived through it themselves.
It makes sense that those who have gone through military training would think that overcoming PTSD is simply a matter of strength. Since their very first day of basic training, they’ve been taught that with hard work, conditioning, and mental toughness, they can overcome any obstacle in their path. And in many situations they encounter during military training, this proves to be true, but PTSD will never be one of them.
In speaking with veterans who are resistant to peer support programs, we often ask them if they would attempt to heal a bullet wound or dress a severe burn with willpower. They laugh and respond, “no of course not!” But trying to health the mental and emotional damage of PTSD without the proper tools and assistance is every bit as futile.
Enroll In Our Peer Support Training And Development Courses Today
The first step toward helping military members feel more comfortable entering and staying in PTSD treatment is proper education. Our peer support training and development courses are designed specifically for veterans and first responders. This training can help people at every level of the military community provide the support that veterans so desperately need. Enroll today!