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Changing the Dialogue of PTS
Experiencing some level of post-traumatic stress (PTS) after a traumatic event can be expected. Our military personnel deal with a level of stress that many will not understand, whether in combat or in other high stress situations. We should expect a spike in emotional and behavioral responses. However, PTS is often talked about behind closed doors, as many who are diagnosed feel ashamed. The conversation needs to shift, empowering more veterans to seek care sooner.
This is why the George W. Bush Institute dropped the “D” in PTS. As President George W. Bush said, “We’re getting rid of the D. PTS is an injury; it’s not a disorder.” When depression stopped being referred to by its clinical term “major depressive disorder”, the conversation shifted, opening the door for more people to feel comfortable talking about their experiences and seeking relief.
We know that treatment for PTS works. Approximately 50 percent of veterans respond well to the best available treatments - cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure therapy. However, that leaves 50 percent who are not. Researchers must continue to identify innovative, effective "tools" in our clinical "toolboxes" to match the needs of our customers –veterans.
Interdisciplinary public-private partnerships are the most efficient way to innovate. These relationships open lines of communication necessary to advance diagnostics for PTS and other invisible wounds of war. As part of the Bush Institute’s mission to foster successful veteran transition, we have developed the Warrior Wellness Alliance. This Alliance brings together public and private sector organizations to open the dialogue, advance diagnostic tools, and ultimately connect more veterans to the care they need.
While these partnerships and clinical improvements are moving treatments forward, society also needs to advance. The closed door conversations need to become public. Instead of veterans feeling ashamed for seeking treatment they should be recognized for their strength in asking for help. Together we can change the dialogue and encourage more veterans to tell their story and reach out for help.
Learn more about PTS treatment options: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/Decisionaid
Kacie Kelly oversees and manages policy, operational, and programmatic efforts on veteran health and well-being, including the Warrior Wellness Alliance. She manages strategic efforts to promote the partnerships, collaboration, and alignment among organizations that are so crucial to fostering the health and well-being of post-9/11 Veterans.
Prior to this role, Kacie served as the National Director for Public-Private Partnerships in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office for Suicide Prevention where she was responsible for developing a comprehensive and integrated public health approach to prevent suicide among the 14 million Veterans not engaged in VA healthcare. Throughout her 15-year career with VA, she led innovative programs to serve more Veterans and their families through strategic partnerships within government and across public and private sectors. In addition, she has had leading roles to promote military culture competence in the community, outreach efforts to reduce stigma associated with seeking mental healthcare, and to enhance provider proficiency in evidence-based mental health care. She earned her Master of Health Sciences (MHS) at Louisiana State University and has a Graduate Certificate in Women in Public Policy and Politics from the University of Massachusetts - Boston. Kacie has also been an active volunteer in the New Orleans community where she served as a Commissioner on the BioDistrict Board of New Orleans and on the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross.Full Bio
Supporting Veteran Mental Health through Warriors Connect Project
Through the Warrior Wellness Alliance's latest effort, we hope to gain unprecedented insight into how post-9/11 veterans talk about the challenges they encounter to their well-being, and about the coping strategies, techniques, treatments, and support available to them.
May We Commit to More This Patriot Day
Colonel Miguel Howe, the April and Jay Graham Fellow of the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, calls us all to higher service 17 years after September 11, 2001. This essay also appears in today's Dallas Morning News.