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VA: Peer Support Program

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Peer Support Specialist Field

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As the war on terrorism continues more military service men and women return home with symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While the Veteran's Affairs (VA) continues to face the problem directly, it became evident that not only were returning military service men and women needing service for PTSD but previous veterans from Vietnam and the first Gulf War were needing service. To compound this epidemic, many veterans were not seeking assistance. Dredging up painful memories seems unbearable for many veterans. Scientific research shows that various approaches in Cognitive-Behavior Therapy relieves many of the symptoms of PTSD; however many veterans were not buying into the treatment.

The VA launched a campaign to strengthen veterans' confidence in the results that the therapy provided. The campaign included videos of veterans of all backgrounds and with various situations sharing their challenges and success. The VA recently added peer support. The peer support is a component of therapy in which the veteran working through his or her PTSD is paired with a Peer Support Specialists (PSS). PSS are trained veterans who have gone through the PTSD therapy.

PSS offer an edge over any other aspect of therapy in that the veteran in therapy can talk with another veteran who has been where he or she is and walk with them through the process. For some veterans, this process helps to reduce anxiety related to the therapy process. Veterans who have participated in the PTSD treatment by the VA is a invaluable resource of knowledge. PSS are testimonials of the VA's PTSD program's success. PSS are a wealth of knowledge and provide an opportunity for veterans in therapy to obtain information tailored to their concerns.

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