Tulane expert describes the challenges of treating mental health in military veteransNovember 8, 20212 min read
Mental health care and suicide prevention among those who have served in the military are top priorities for providing quality healthcare for veterans. However, often the biggest challenge is getting veterans into care.
Tulane University veteran’s health expert Dr. Greg Stewart is available to speak about the hurdles veterans face in receiving quality mental health care and the difficult challenge in finding these wounded warriors suffering from invisible wounds. Stewart is the medical director for the Tulane University Center for Brain Health, whose central mission is to provide care for military veterans regardless of discharge status.
Stewart said there are several misconceptions when it comes to veteran’s health care.
The first is having access to a medical program. The Department provides medical care to military members on active duty. Once they are finished with their military duty, a majority transition to care through the Veterans Administration (VA), but not everyone who served is eligible for those services. Others seek treatment through community providers. But for some, the selflessness of putting others first becomes a detriment.
“They feel like that someone else is more deserving, so they don’t take up a spot or take up resources. The bottom line is that some of our heroes won’t access the health care they need, thinking that they are helping someone else,” Stewart said.
A combination of these issues can often result in many veterans falling through the cracks and going untreated, which sometimes leads to worst-case outcomes. However, the good news is there are places for veterans to go that provide an environment necessary for them to heal and become whole again.
“Everyone is worried about the suicide problem with veterans. It’s a big issue. We are examining the different issues that lead to suicide, including depression, substance use or abuse, self-medicating, underdiagnosed or diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury. These are some of the major areas that need to address to prevent veteran suicide. However, we have found that post-traumatic stress disorder in and of itself is not a high indicator of the potential for suicide. We need to look at some of these other areas to help our wounded warriors. One of the major challenges is simply finding these individuals and trying to get them to seek treatment,” Stewart said.
To contact Dr. Stewart, please click here.
Greg Stewart, MD W. Kennon McWilliams Professor of Sports Medicine; Chief, Section of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Associate Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery
Dr. Stewart specializes in sports medicine, physical medicine, rehab and age-related research of former NFL players and military veterans.