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Below are the answers to some questions about PTSD that are often asked by Veterans and their families.
Do I have PTSD?
A natural first question is whether your symptoms might be due to PTSD. A good place to start learning about PTSD is the PTSD Basics page on our website. You should know, though, that having symptoms does not always mean that you have PTSD. Some reactions to stress and trauma are normal. Since many common reactions look like the symptoms of PTSD, a doctor must decide if you have PTSD
Also, stressors other than trauma may cause symptoms that are like those of PTSD. For example, work or money problems can lead to symptoms. Medical problems such as heart disease or diabetes, or mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, can have symptoms that look like PTSD. That is why you should see a provider who is trained to know which of your symptoms might be PTSD.
If I have other problems, can I also have PTSD?
Veterans with PTSD often have other types of problems. They might have other stress, medical, or mental health problems. Sometimes PTSD is overlooked when other problems seem very pressing. If you have questions, ask your doctor if PTSD also needs to be treated.
Some additional information that may be of help to Veteran’s seeking help if they believe they may have PTSD or some other mental disorder.
Am I eligible for VA services?
All Veterans could possibly be eligible. Here is a brief list of factors that make up whether you are eligible:
- You completed active military service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard (or Merchant Marines during WW II).
- You were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
- You are a National Guard member or Reservist who has completed a federal deployment to a combat zone.
You should also be aware that:
- Health care eligibility is not just for those who served in combat.
- Other groups may be eligible for some health benefits.
- Veteran’s health care is not just for service-connected injuries or medical conditions.
- Signing up for health care is separate from signing up for other benefits at VA.
- Veteran’s health care facilities are for both women and men. VA offers full-service health care to women Veterans.
For Veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, some benefits have been added. In January, 2008, the period of eligibility for free health care was extended from two to five years.
VA operates a yearly enrollment system that helps make sure that Veterans who are eligible can get care. For information, see VA Health Care Eligibility & Enrollment. Your DD 214 is used to enroll for VA services. If you have trouble locating this form, VA Enrollment can still assist you.
What help is there for me (or my Veteran family member)?
PTSD is treatable. Many places within VA provide PTSD treatment. General programs that provide mental health services include VA medical centers, community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs), and Vet Centers. Use the VA Facilities Locator to find the closest VA facility.
An extra note about Vet Centers
Offered through the Readjustment Counseling Service, Vet Centers are located in the community. They provide information, assessment, and counseling to any Veteran who served in a war zone. This includes conflicts such as in Somalia, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
Vet Centers also offer services to families of Veterans for military-related issues. There are no fees or charges for Vet Center services, and services are confidential. That means no information will be given to any person or agency (including the VA) without your consent. Most of the staff are Veterans themselves.
During normal business hours, you can call 1-800-905-4675 (Eastern) or 1-866-496-8838 (Pacific). The Vet Center program also has a 24/7 hotline, with all calls answered by combat Veterans: 1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387).
VA special PTSD clinics and programs
VA also has special PTSD clinics and programs that can help eligible Veterans. For more on these programs, see our fact sheet PTSD Treatment Programs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
What to expect when you see a VA provider
When you see a VA provider, he or she will first assess whether or not you have PTSD. If you do have PTSD, remember that it can be treated. Several types of education and treatment are helpful to Veterans and their family members. These include:
- Classes on dealing with stress, anger, sleep, relationships, and PTSD symptoms
- One-to-one, group, and family counseling
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