JOPLIN, Mo. — Those who have fought for our country often experience trauma on a level most people can’t even imagine.
And unfortunately, an average of 20 military veterans die every day by suicide in America.
But there are a lot of local resources to help them.
This may look like some sort of a video game — but its actually a simulator that’s been proven to save lives.
It’s called Bravemind.
Samantha White, Therapist, Ozark Center, said, “Bravemind is utilized in conjunction with P.E. or Prolonged Exposure Therapy.”
It’s designed specifically for war veterans who are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
“Common symptoms are flashbacks, nightmares, avoiding thoughts, people and places.”
The veteran describes a memory to their therapist, and then they use the program to re-create it — allowing the veteran to walk through the memory in a highly realistic simulation.
“One of the major criteria to meet PTSD is avoidance. And so essentially any treatment we do for PTSD, we are guiding the client along to sort of swing the pendulum in the other direction so we’re addressing those things head on.”
White says the more a patient re-visits a difficult memory, the more they’re able to identify where their PTSD symptoms are coming from.
“Through exposure to the trauma, to the memory, we are rewiring your brain and your body to realize I am no longer in danger.”
It’s a treatment similar to what helps Veteran, Patrick Kelly, deal with his anxiety and adjustment disorder.
Patrick Kelly, Military Liaison, Veteran Integration Program, said, “It helps me to recognize and pinpoint what’s happening, when it’s happening and why it’s happening.”
After 10 years in the Army — including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan — Kelly was injured in a training accident.
Exposure therapy is what helped him learn to manage his symptoms — and create a whole new life for himself.
“The more you’re exposed to it, the more you can manage how your body is going to react. You can take control of that situation instead of letting it control you.”
Kelly has since gone on to help create the Veteran Integration Program at the Ozark Center.
It helps veterans find out how they can get help with mental health issues, substance abuse, getting disability benefits, and much more.
“I know we all want to be self-reliant, that’s a big staple of pride for military members. But part of being self-reliant is being able to use resources. We are a resource, we’re not out to get ya.”
To get connected with the Veteran Integration Program and other veteran-specific resources at the Ozark Center, visit Four States Homepage — just look for the suicide crisis tab.
And if you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and needs someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk.