Trauma-Informed Care for Veterans

Military service is a deeply rewarding experience, but it often comes with its own set of challenges. Veterans serve our country selflessly and without hesitation, but the traumas and difficulties that they encounter can haunt them long after they leave the armed forces. Trauma-informed care for veterans is one way that healthcare professionals can offer support to veterans with the kindness, empathy, and care that they deserve.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-informed care is an approach to healthcare that values the critical role that trauma plays in the lives of individuals. Providers who embody a trauma-informed approach recognize that people’s experiences are complicated and that deep emotional wounds often lie just beneath the surface. Instead of treating symptoms, trauma-informed care seeks to address traumatic experiences directly and to aid individuals on their journey to recovery.

Why is Trauma-Informed Care Important for Veterans?

Combat deployment, incidents of sexual assault, and other experiences like physical and emotional abuse are just some of the experiences that can leave military men and women traumatized. Trauma-informed care is essential for veterans who are fighting to rebuild their lives after their service. By providing a safe and understanding space for veterans where they can access the high-quality care they need to recover, healthcare providers can play an integral role in the lives of veterans.

The Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care for Veterans

One of the major benefits of trauma-informed care for veterans is that it reduces the likelihood of re-traumatization. Retraumatization is a common experience for many veterans who have experienced trauma, and it can exacerbate the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. However, trauma-informed care provides a safe and supportive environment where veterans can feel comfortable sharing their experiences and working toward healing.

Trauma-informed care also focuses on building a strong patient-provider relationship. The provider takes the time to listen to the veteran’s history and understands that every trauma survivor has unique needs. Having this relationship helps to build trust, and the veteran is more likely to follow through with necessary treatment and avoid self-harm.

Another major benefit of trauma-informed care is that it is inherently empowering for the veteran. Trauma can leave a person feeling powerless and defeated. Trauma-informed care models provide education and skills to veterans to regain control of their lives. It assists with regaining control of their emotions, lives, and relationships to build a life beyond the trauma.

What Does Trauma-Informed Care Look Like in Practice?

Practicing trauma-informed care requires healthcare providers to see the person beyond the illness or trauma. This means starting with a basic understanding of a patient’s health history and where they come from. Providers must recognize that trauma affects the whole person, including their physical well-being, mental health, and social relationships. 

In addition, trauma-informed care should employ various treatment techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), and other evidence-based therapies.

How Can Everyone Help Promote Trauma-Informed Care?

Everyone in society, from friends to family to business professionals, can lend their support to advancing the implementation of trauma-informed care for veterans. A robust dialogue needs to occur in every community between veterans and care providers to identify the needs of veterans and determine the best approach toward them. By creating a culture of understanding, support, and appreciation for our veterans, we can make a real difference in this critical public health problem.

The way we care for our veterans, particularly for those wrestling with the effects of trauma, is a measure of our collective character. Trauma-informed care is an essential step towards improving the health and well-being of our veterans. By embracing a trauma-informed approach toward the care we provide, we can help our veterans heal, adjust to civilian life, and ultimately flourish. Let us take this call to action to heart and support our veterans as they look forward to brighter and hopeful futures.