New veterans' mental health program; peers share experiences

Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who gets it. That is the idea behind a new veterans' mental health program.

For many veterans dealing with PTSD, the road to recovery is rather bumpy. 

"Feeling more withdrawn quick to anger irritable not sleeping maybe having flashbacks and nightmares or drinking and using drugs," said Christopher Loftis, Ph.D., National Director of the VA/U.S. Department of Defense mental health collaboration.

Christopher Loftis

Fear, isolation, depression, and anxiety can follow past days in service – readjusting to routines at home or even current events. 

"Ukraine -- that’s triggered people. We've gotten calls about veterans experiencing more stress and triggering thoughts of their own difficulties," Loftis said. 

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A new "Veterans Know" campaign aimed at peers who share those experiences could make all the difference.

"It's also for us to have veterans who have gone through difficulty and highlight them and them to talk about the story of recovery. So make the connection. We want to meet the connection to veterans out there who haven’t come in yet," said Bert Berger, clinical psychologist at Milwaukee VA.

Bert Berger

Psychologists say it's important to find stories like yours – and take that next step to help overcome the stigma. The goal is to reinforce that there are places and people who can help.

"We want people to enjoy life. So just having a positive attitude, talking about recovery, talking about we can get over things. We are gonna make it past this – it’s going to get better," Berger said.

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The Milwaukee VA Medical center does have a walk-in clinic for mental health services.

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