Many older veterans have functioned well since their military experience. Then later in life, they begin to think more or become more emotional about their wartime experience. As you age, it is normal to look back over your life and try to make sense of your experiences. For veterans, this process can trigger Late-Onset Stress Symptomatology (LOSS).
The symptoms of LOSS are similar to symptoms of PTSD. With LOSS, though, veterans might have fewer symptoms, less severe symptoms, or begin having symptoms later in life. LOSS differs from PTSD in that LOSS appears to be closely related to the aging process. People with LOSS might live most of their lives relatively well. They go to work and spend time with family and friends. Then they begin to confront normal age-related changes such as retirement, loss of loved ones and increased health problems. As they go through these stresses, they may start to have more feelings and thoughts about their military experiences.
Having symptoms of LOSS is not upsetting for all veterans. While some find that remembering their wartime experience is upsetting, many find that it helps them to make meaning of their wartime experience.
What can you do to find help?
If you are having a hard time dealing with your wartime memories, there are a number of things that you can do to help yourself. There are also ways you can seek help from others.
• Do things to feel strong and safe in other parts of your life, like exercising, eating well and volunteering.
• Talk to a friend who has been through the war or other hard times. A good friend who understands and cares is often the best medicine.
• Join a support group. It can help to be a part of a group. Some groups focus on war memories. Others focus on the here and now. Still others focus on learning ways to relax.
• Talk to a professional. It may be helpful to talk to someone who is trained and experienced in dealing with aging and PTSD. There are proven, effective treatments for PTSD. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist. You can also find information on PTSD treatment within VA at: VA PTSD Treatment Programs.
• Tell your family and friends about LOSS and PTSD. It can be very helpful to talk to others as you try to place your long-ago wartime experiences into perspective. It may also be helpful for others to know what may be the source of your anger, nerves, sleep or memory problems. Then they can provide more support.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most of all, do not feel bad or ashamed to ask for help. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of wisdom and strength.
(This information is provided on a VA.Gov Web site.)
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198, and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays, call Harriet Mulnix, (505) 793-1782.
Durango VA Clinic
The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave. Durango, CO 81301 (the old Mercy Medical Center). Phone?number is?247-2214.
For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.