Ukraine-Russia Conflict : Vicarious Trauma for Veterans
Traumatic images and videos of people facing crises from Ukraine are not easy to process for anyone including children. Veterans in general and particularly diagnosed with PTSD is another category which I have noticed are being impacted by the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Many active duty and veteran members have reported escalation in anxiety symptoms, hopelessness about the future, feeling emotionally numb, feelings of unrest, due to vicariously witnessing violence. One of my patients (23) reported feeling loss of control and increased helplessness, confusion, and sadness watching and listening to stories of misery, suffering, and terror. She said she has been questioning and trying to find answers to questions on how greed for power can lead to crime, injustice, and destruction of mankind? How can we control this deranged politics and rampant politicians? Another patient (42) reported reliving his memories from his deployment in Afghanistan where he lost his colleagues and friends. He said the visuals from Ukraine have triggered traumatic memories and reminds him of the fear he had experienced during his deployment. He also said he is unable to let go of the thoughts of impending war and loss of human lives. Patients reported vicariously witnessing violence is as traumatic if not more traumatic as being actually in the situation.
Some of the coping strategies discussed in the session along with processing negative emotions were; Limiting use of social media, having a daily routine, staying active, reaching out to friends and family for extra support, and talking to a mental health professional if in crisis. Resources for veterans that can be shared are; https://rebootrecovery.com/, https://www.ptsd.va.gov/, https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/veterans, https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/veterans/