Date of Paper

5-2013

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Carol F. Kuechler

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore from Veterans’ perspectives, their experiences with combat-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment and to report their advice to social workers involved in treating Veterans. This subject has particular importance given the increasing number of Veterans who have returned and are currently returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan with this diagnosis. Interviews were conducted with four subjects, all of whom had been deployed to a combat zone, were diagnosed with combat-related PTSD, and completed outpatient treatment prior to July 1, 2012. The interviewees discussed their experiences with PTSD treatment and offered advice to social workers who treat Veterans with combat-related PTSD. Two Veterans experienced more re-experiencing symptoms, such as dreams, after treatment. Avoidance symptoms among the Veterans in this study included avoiding treatment, avoiding people, and avoiding military duty. The findings confirmed that arousal symptoms, specifically irritability, are often triggered by common daily events, such as a camera flash, a tractor backfiring, or a neighbor’s knock on the front door. All participating Veterans reported that their treatment was positively affected by family or friend-based support systems. The implications for social workers include providing liaison-type services between doctors and Veterans and engaging and supporting family members in the treatment and recovery process. Additionally, the Veterans in this study implied an importance to the social worker having shared experiences with the Veteran.

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