CopShock: Second Edition
Surviving Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

by Allen R. Kates, MFAW, BCECR

Veterans of War


Research on Vietnam veterans shows that exposure to combat is the single most important predictor of PTSD.

Combat veterans from any war who become police officers may carry memories of horror into police work. Those with PTSD symptoms may be more comfortable attending veterans' support groups than police groups, especially if many issues are combat-related. They may prefer to go to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) therapists instead of police peer supporters or Behavioral Science Units. Confidentiality is usually assured in the VA setting, but it’s important to confirm that it is.

Police officers who are war veterans may be eligible for benefits and services not covered by their departments or unions. The most important issue seems to be health care. Be aware, though, that the VA has reduced its counseling services, and the veteran may have to spend time searching for the right therapist.

In addition to checking out the VA, police officers and all other veterans may wish to investigate the many support groups described below. The following represents only a few of the resources available.


Asbestos Exposure
Please scroll down to "Mesothelioma Center"

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA’s website features sections on health care and benefits, as well as special sections on disabled, homeless, minority and women veterans. Among many other items, they provide a facilities locator for every state, and a directory of service organizations from the African American Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association, American Ex-Prisoners of War, the United Spinal Association, to the Women’s Army Corps Veterans Association. In their list of top information requests, number 1 is prescription drug refills. Number 6 is the suicide prevention Lifeline. The mammoth size of the organization is reflected in the enormity of the website. Be prepared to spend some time at this site.
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Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
The DAV website provides information on the organization’s legislative initiatives, issues that affect disabled veterans and a help program to aid vets with VA claims. The site even offers a mobile office that will come to your door to explain benefits, and information on transportation available for veterans needing to go to a facility for treatment.
   Go to: Write: DAV, National Headquarters, P.O. Box 14301, Cincinnati, OH 45250-0201. Phone: 877-426-2838 or 859-441-7300. For information on PTSD in military veterans, enter “PTSD” in the website’s search box.


1st Cavalry Division Association
In the chapter titled “Soldiers” in the book CopShock, Bob McClellan talks about the 1st Cav. Mostly a social group, the “alumni of the first team” share memories and friendship and engage in charitable work. With chapters across the U.S., veterans of the 1st Cav who fought in Vietnam and other wars may appreciate the camaraderie and emotional support.
   Go to: Write: 1st Cavalry Division Association, 302 North Main Street, Copperas Cove, TX 76522-1799. Phone: 254-547-6537.


Gulf War Veteran Resource Pages
Privately run by volunteers, the best place to start is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section. The prime focus of Gulf War sites is Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), “most likely a collection of different illnesses with similar or overlapping symptoms.” PTSD and other psychological conditions are blamed less on GWS and the trauma from exposure to toxic chemicals and more on mistreatment by the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs.
   These resource pages provide plenty of information and access to a searchable document library, forums, a self-help guide, a locator to track vets you may know, and a referral network. 
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Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
An article on the IAVA website says, “At least one-in-three Iraq veterans and one-in-nine Afghanistan veterans will face a mental health issue like depression, anxiety, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Multiple tours and inadequate rest between deployments have increased the stress of combat. PTSD rates for Iraq veterans are already higher than the rates recorded among veterans of Vietnam.”
   Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the nation's largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans. IAVA represents more than 70,000 veteran members and civilian supporters in all 50 states. IAVA’s mission is to educate the public about the wars and to improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. IAVA addresses critical issues facing new veterans and their families, including mental health, Traumatic Brain Injury, a stretched VA system, inadequate health coverage for national guardsmen and reservists, and outdated GI Bill educational benefits.
   Go to: Write: IAVA, 770 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10003. Phone: 212-982-9699.


Iraq War Veterans Organization
The Iraq War Veterans Organization was created to organize and represent Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans.
   The organization provides information and support for: Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans, Global War on Terror Veterans, Operation Enduring Freedom Veterans, active military personnel and family members related to pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment issues, as well as service member and family Operation Iraqi Freedom Deployment Readiness problems, information about PTSD, Health issues and Veterans Benefits. The Iraq War Veterans Organization website has links to information about Veterans Administration health care, re-adjustment after deployment, education, employment, military discounts, PTSD issues, support-chat forums, family support and deployment information.
   Go to: Contact information for individual board members and the executive committee are on the website.


Korean War Project
New wars tend to exacerbate PTSD symptoms in war veterans. Just reading about conflicts like the Iraq War in the newspaper or seeing them on TV news push many veterans into sleepless nights and flashbacks. According to Hal Barker, dealing with PTSD is the driving force behind this website. The site features books, recollections and connections to friends, families, units, reunions and veterans groups. The featured book Return to Heartbreak Ridge tells the story of what PTSD can do to a soldier.
   Go to: Write: Korean War Project, PO Box 180190, Dallas, TX 75218. Phone: 214-320-0342.

Mesothelioma Center (Veterans exposure to Asbestos)
Many veterans are currently suffering from life-threatening illnesses as a result of exposure to asbestos, a material commonly used in hundreds of military applications, products, and ships because of its resistance to fire.
   The Mesothelioma Center provides a complete list of occupations, ships, and shipyards that could have put veterans at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases. In addition, the site has thousands of articles about asbestos and mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. The site contains a veterans-specific section about the dangers and symptoms such as shortness of breath, severe coughing and chest pains. Due to a long latency period, sometimes mesothelioma may not be diagnosed for 20 years or more.
   Go to: Write:, 20 North Orange Avenue, Suite 1450, Orlando, FL 32801. Phone: 800-615-2270. 


National Veterans Organization of America (NVO)
Many veterans believe the NVO’s website is the most informative site on the web dealing with Veterans, POW/ MIA and PTSD issues. It can take as long as two years for a veteran’s claim to be acted upon. The NVO wants to change that. This site describes how to handle claims and legal rights as well as offers insights into congressional action.
   Go to: Write: NVOA, PO Box 2510, Victoria, TX 77902. Phone: 361-356-1215.

South African Veterans Association (SAVA)
SAVA’s membership is open to veterans of all armed forces in the world. The group appeals to international organizations for help in understanding how PTSD affects their veterans and citizens after many years of bloodshed and turmoil.
   Besides articles about the effects of PTSD, the website also features, Behind the Lines of the Mind, Healing the Mental Scars of War, a book by Peter Tucker and Marius van Niekerk. It is a soldier’s story and handbook on combat-related stress that includes a section on police PTSD.
   Go to: Write: SAVA, P.O. Box 43759, Fishhoek 7974, Cape Town, South Africa. Phone: +27(0)84-843 13 48.


Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
The VFW represents the interests of millions of veterans from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Haiti, Somalia, the Persian Gulf, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and many other areas of conflict. Its main purpose is to secure aid for veterans and their families in need of benefits claims assistance, rehabilitative, educational and employment services. It provides a free brochure about PTSD.
   Go to: Write: VFW National Headquarters, 406 West 34th Street, Kansas City, MO 64111. Phone: 816-756-3390.


Veterans of the Vietnam War (VVNW)
With 90 posts worldwide, formed in 1980, the VVNW’s goal is to serve not only Vietnam veterans, but also anyone who served in the Armed Forces of the United States at any time. The group is active in issues concerning veterans health, public awareness of the POW/MIA problem, homeless vets, Agent Orange, PTSD and public education on the Vietnam War.
   Go to: Write: 805 So. Township Blvd., Pittston, PA 18640. Phone: 570-603-9740.


World War II U.S. Veterans Website
Now that many World War II veterans are retired and have time to reflect, they realize the quality of their lives could be better, free of agonizing flashbacks, nightmares, anger and survivor guilt.
   About a quarter million WWII survivors suffer from traumatic stress. Many have PTSD. Among other things, this site helps WWII vets connect with others suffering from the same condition through their forums.
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