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Veterans Reluctant to Seek Mental Health Assistance

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According to a January report from Veteran's Affairs, of the service members that seek assistance from the program, more than half will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

But beyond those, there are many that never even seek help for their mental health. This could be due to the mentality of many in the service.

"Veterans are trained to complete the mission and disregard their own personal feelings," said Marc Lockett, the OEF/OIF/OND Coordinator for the Clarksburg V.A. Medical Center.

While many of the strains of war are obvious to an outside observer, there are still many that lurk beneath the surface, possibly even out of the recognition of the veterans themselves.

Dr. Joel Vogt, a psychiatrist at the center, said that many of the same characteristics that are helpful in combat may cause problems at home. He said this includes over-vigilince and over-aggressiveness.

"It's when they return home that some of their normal behaviors begin causing some problems and sometimes people are slow to recognize that that's an issue or a problem," Dr. Vogt said.

 And even when a veteran is aware they need help, they may be reluctant to seek the care they need.

"There's still a fair amount of stigma about mental health treatment," Dr. Vogt said. "People don't want to be viewed as weak or needing help. It's kind of like asking for directions when you're driving. The tendency is to claim, "I've got it under control. Everything's okay. I don't need any kind of help."

The barriers blocking veterans from proper mental health care don't stop there. Lockett said that finances and transportation can prevent even those that want help from receiving it. But that does not mean that Lockett isn't isn't hopeful for the future.

"I think it's getting better," Lockett said. "I think it's like a word of mouth thing. You help a veteran, and they will tell another veteran about the services they received. So I believe it's word of mouth. It's getting out there."


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