If you know a veteran of the United States Armed Services thats having mental episodes that include suicidal thoughts, you may be able get help from Veterans Administration (VA) Hospitals and or Clinics. Your quick action in a situation like this could save a life. Schizophrenia may be the cause of these thoughts. Unfortunately, anyone can become schizophrenic so if you know a veteran thats showing signs of it, they need medical help fast. Signs vary from person to person and may include withdrawal, lack of focus, problems communicating, delusions, suicidal thoughts, and irritability. These are some of the major signs of this illness. Suicidal thoughts are just one of the many signs of this illness but its the most traumatic of them by far.
The National Library of Medicine defines Schizophrenia as, a mental disorder that makes it hard to: Tell the difference between what is real and what is not real: Think clearly; Have normal emotional responses; Act normal in social settings.
Helping a Veteran That Has Schizophrenia
In order to get help from the VA for a veteran thats suspected of having this brain disorder, a family member should contact a local office of the VA as soon as possible. Its important that someone contact them as soon as possible to explain the situation and ask for psychiatric and medical help. If the afflicted person is an adult, it may be necessary to seek legal Guardianship of the individual in order to take responsibility for making medical decisions for the individual. That may call for a court order that grants Guardianship. Before Guardianship is granted, a judge might call for a psychiatric evaluation of the person in question. There are no guarantees that the VA will help. Each case has to be evaluated on its own merits.
A Severe, Chronic and Disabling Brain Disorder
Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic and disabling brain disorder that affects approximately 1.1% of American males over the age of 18. Symptoms usually begin to manifest in the late teens for males and in the mid 20s to early 30s for females. These are the same ages of the majority of United States military personnel. While the military has paid a lot of attention to other psychiatric diseases, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, now theyre doing more to recognize and treat Schizophrenia patients.
Hiding In Darkness
One of the problems with getting help in the early stages of the illness is a soldier or veterans unwillingness to come forward and admit to a problem. Soldiers are trained to be physically and mentally tough so they fear being ostracized and stigmatized if they admit to mental problems. Not to mention losing their jobs. So some of them try to hide the fact that theyre having mental episodes. This attitude and behavior can continue once a soldier returns to civilian life, which makes it difficult to get help from the Veterans Administration.
No Medical Bills
The good news for soldiers is, unlike civilians, they dont have to worry about medical cost associated with getting help for psychotic breaks. That can also be a catch-22 because of their reluctance to admit to having mental issues. This is where the military’s Buddy System has to work the way it was meant to work. Buddies have to step up and say something when they see a buddy having mental issues. `The military has ample resources to recognize and treat the rising number of cases of Schizophrenia among their own.
The National Alliance of Mental Health NAMI – Get State and local Support. Find Your Local NAMI
Family – A Safety Net
When this fails, its up to family and friends to act as a safety net for veterans with Schizophrenia. Someone needs to call the Veterans Administration and ask for help. Be persistent but kind. Go to the facility in person and ask to speak to someone. There are no guarantees that youll get the help you need at a VA facility but thats probably the exception and not the rule. The military and the Veterans Administration likes to think of themselves as organizations that takes care of its wounded warriors.