After serving, many veterans come home with significant mental health issues, even if they didn't have them previously. This is often a direct result of undergoing extreme trauma while serving. If you're struggling or know someone who is with the consequences of serving your country, there's nothing to be ashamed of. Getting help will aid you in getting back on your feet and be yourself again instead of being stuck in a spiral of depression and other problems. Here are three ways that counseling can help.
PTSD has been understood, though it went by a different name, for a very long time. It's a condition that many people who are sent to fight in wars come home with as a result of what they have been through.
It's important to understand here that PTSD isn't just feeling bad and isn't something you can get over yourself. PTSD actually changes the way that the brain functions, making you more likely to effectively short circuit into a repeating cycle of paranoia, fear, severe anxiety, and even reducing your memory function. This isn't something you can just will yourself out of, nor should you feel guilty for an inability to do so. However, counseling can help by working through the things that triggered these reactions in you, and ultimately by helping to rewire the way your brain works by replacing negative thoughts and cycles with positive ones.
Another big problem that many people who serve in the military experience is the loss of fellow comrades. This can be due to an accident, an attack, or even from illness. In any case, losing someone that you've come to rely on to watch your back and vice versa can take a huge toll on a person. It also tends to be harder for people serving to take the time to actively grieve and adapt to the change, because they can't just stop working for the military and take the time they need to recover. A veteran counselor can help a veteran process the losses they have gone through as a result of their service.
Another reason counseling can help you is because it gives you an opportunity to truly express your feelings and memories without judgment or fear. As much as some former soldiers would love to talk to their loved ones about these things, sometimes it's too difficult. Fear of their judgment of you or them changing their opinion of you can be enough to keep you from doing it. You won't need to worry about that with a professional counselor; they're there to listen and to help you find solutions, not to judge or to spread information about what you've said.