This section is dedicated to providing government benefit information and non government assistance for returning active duty, National Guard, or reserve service members and their loved ones who have supported the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Our Three Main Principles
- Veterans must not have to wait for benefits to which they are entitled.
- Veterans must have ensured access to high quality medical care.
- Veterans must be guaranteed timely access to the full continuum of health care services.
For Family Members and Loved Ones
As a member of a military family, you too have challenges to face regarding your family member’s military service. Although you may be proud of your spouse or son or daughter for serving our country, you may also find yourself upset in ways that you didn’t expect.
Here are some of the things that you may experience, that therapy can help you with:
- You may feel overwhelmed and angry at having to care for your family on your own.
- You may feel tearful and so worried about your loved one that it’s hard to keep up your normal routines.
- You may feel lost and alone, with no one to talk to who understands what you’re going through.
- Your returning family member has gone through difficult experiences (as have you). You both may feel distant, nervous and awkward with each other.
- You may feel hurt and discouraged that your family member “needs space” and isn’t as engaged with family like as he/she was before deployment.
- Some of you have experienced the traumatic loss of a loved one. You will undoubtedly experience a range of emotions following this loss. It’s not unusual to feel your own personal safety threatened, and to find it hard to trust anyone. You will need time to recover from the shock and grief and it’s often helpful to talk with an experienced professional about this process.
What family and friends of Veterans can do to help them readjust to normal life.
- Give a veteran some space. Most won’t want to talk about the violence they witnessed right away.
- Then lend an ear. When the time comes, prepare to listen. The recollections may come out over the course of weeks or months, as your loved one reformulates the memories into meaningful stories.
- Recognize that things are different now. The world has changed. A spouse may have taken on new responsibilities. There may be some jealousy over what has been missed. Bring your veteran up to date slowly, one issue at a time. Realize that you may have to renegotiate family routines.
- Understand the veteran’s need to spend time with war buddies. Families need to know that the veteran’s lifeline to peers often makes the difference between coping and a withdrawal into isolation.
- Expect a period of adjustment. It can take six to eight weeks to get back to something that approaches normal, both physically and mentally.
- Get help. If problems persist for more than three months, professional help may be needed.
- Take a screening test. A new online test offered by the Department of Defense, Office of Health Affairs, can help those who prefer anonymity. Called the Mental Health Self-Assessment. The program allows veterans affected by deployment in every branch of the military (including National Guard and Reserves) and their family members to identify symptoms before problems become urgent. The program is accessible 24/7 at www.militarymentalhealth.org on the web. The site also provides information about mental health and substance abuse services covered by the DoD.
For Service Men and Women/Veterans
Remember if you are now having experiences that are interfering with your return to your familiar way of life they are just normal reactions to an abnormal situation. They can be alleviated with the help of knowledgeable professionals who can work with you and/or your family. Many feelings and experiences that may be troubling for you now start out as normal responses to the abnormal situation of war.
Here are some signs that we hope might be useful to you in making a decision whether therapy might be of help.
- If you feel emotionally flat and you can’t respond the way you used to with family and friends.
- If life doesn’t seem quite real and you can’t relate to everyday concerns of the folks at home.
- If you feel hyper-alert and extremely sensitive to your surroundings (like danger might be anywhere).
- If it’s hard to concentrate, hard to sleep or you have nightmares.
- If you feel you don’t fit in.
- If no one seems to “get it” – and you really miss the closeness of your buddies from your unit.
- If you get tearful for “no reason”.
- If you feel guilty – for being alive or for having done “bad” things or for not having done other things or just guilty without knowing why.
- If you find that you get angry and “blowup” more often than before.
Help From Non-Government Institutes
If you fear that the act of asking for mental health help will interfere with career advancement, there is a group of therapists who are not affiliated with any government agency, who can provide both the confidentiality and flexibility not available within the Military or VA systems.
The Soldiers’ Project is a project of the Trauma Center of LAISPS (Los Angeles Institute & Society for Psychoanalytic Studies). Participating therapists and supporters include licensed clinicians and members of local psychoanalytic institutes. They provide free psychological services that are individually tailored to the particular needs of those who seek help. They are available to work with service men and women on active duty, veterans, and/or families and can provide group therapy as well as family and individual therapy.
If you or one of your family members thinks they might benefit from help, please contact us. One of our mental health professionals will be in touch with you to set up an appointment. You can also contact them by email at the phone 818-761-7438 or, use our Contact Us page.
A great resource is the book “Courage After Fire” printed by Ulysses Press. It covers coping strategies for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. We have a limited number of copies on hand or, you can order online from Amazon.com or direct from Ulysses Press at 800-377-2542. To get one of our discounted copies you can send an email using our Contact Us page.
Need More Information?
Use our contact page to send an email. If you need immediate help, call Jeff at 562-522-4241. If you are having problems with a VA facility in California call Senator Feinstein’s office in Los Angeles and talk to Trevor Daley at 310-914-7300. If you are having a problem with the Long Beach VA office, use our contact page to explain your problem and we will get back with you.
How Can You Help?
As a nation, we must make our veterans a priority with increased funding for transitional psychotherapeutic and bereavement services. We have found plenty of money for the war. Now we need to step up to our responsibility to those who have done our national bidding. Any citizen can write a letter to Congress demanding adequate VA funding; others can seek out the more than 200 vet centers nationwide and offer to lend a hand.
Our understanding of our vets’ needs is a priceless gift. Let us embrace them in an all-enveloping support system so they really can come home again.
Any questions or suggestions use our Contact Us link.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
This site is the main web site for the VA and provides benefits information and assistance for returning Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve service members who have participated in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition to the wide range of benefits the VA offers for returning veterans, this site also includes links to other federal agencies and organizations that offer related benefits and services.
- The Military Vaccine Resource Directory
This site is not connected to the military. But is a resource directory for active-duty troops, veterans, and others who are concerned about the military’s mandatory bioterrorism vaccines. Here you will find an overview of these vaccines, the latest news, support groups, health care tips, medical and legal resources, and more. With the anthrax vaccine now declared illegal, they work to prevent any further use of Investigational New Drugs on our troops without their informed consent, and continue to help the ill and those who have refused the vaccines.
- California Department of Veterans Affairs
This site is an overview of California veterans programs: Learn about the benefits you have earned, as well as benefits for dependents and survivors.
- VA Long Beach Healthcare System
This site is the VA Long Beach Healthcare System which currently consists of the Anaheim Vet Center, four community clinics located in Anaheim, Santa Ana, Villages at Cabrillo in Long Beach, Whittier, Santa Fe Springs and, the main campus adjacent to California State University Long Beach. Find out about their residential and outpatient services for vets.
- The Soldiers Project
The Soldiers Project is a project of the Trauma Center of LAISPS (Los Angeles Institute & Society for Psychoanalytic Studies). Participating therapists and supporters include other licensed clinicians and members of local psychoanalytic institutes. We provide – free of charge – psychological services that are individually tailored to the particular needs of those who seek our help. We are available to work with service men and women on active duty, veterans, and/or families. We can provide group therapy as well as family and individual therapy. As we are not affiliated with any governmental agency, we can offer both the confidentiality and flexibility not available within the VA system.