Why Veterans Don't Accept Help - Part 1

By Fuzzy Manning

Getting men to ask and accept help is a subject that needs to be talked about at length. Out of this discussion, we hope to discover easy solutions to get men actively involved in their life and in the lives of their family and friends. It's a known fact that men in general don't pursue help or care on their own and have chosen to be "Unemotional or Disconnected" to life around them.

This will be a two part series to introduce why veterans/men don't accept help/care and to look at possible solutions. In part one, we'll look at Gaining an Understanding and The Culturalization of Men. In part two, we'll examine Why Men Don't Ask for Help and Possible Solutions.

Gaining an Understanding

Veterans coming home deserve
the best care that's available. Quite often, both male and female vets are unwilling to admit they need or seek help. Their refusal for help affects their family for generations. It's sad that so many proud men and women believe their quality of life doesn't matter and that it only affects them!

No veteran, whether they saw combat or not, wants their name connected to depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Combat Stress, or anger management. There is a stigma of shame or embarrassment with males in our society who seek help for mental or emotional problems. There's an unwritten code that male warriors in general don't ask for help for invisible wounds whether they are emotional or physical. It's just a part of being a male, engaging in combat, or being in the military. It is somewhat similar to professional sports where you learn to play through your injuries year after year even though it takes more pain killers and physical therapy to keep you in the game engaged at 100%.

It's a known fact that over 40% of returning warriors will experience anxiety, anger, or depression related issues at some time or throughout their life. When warriors are deployed multiple times, then return home and are deployed again, this creates an emotional roller coaster. Also, while being deployed, the warrior is unable to express feelings and emotions to anyone.

Male warriors and veterans are influenced by a military culture where flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, night terrors, depression, fear, stress, physical aches and pains, panic attacks, insomnia, hopelessness, aggression, or irritability are things that you deal with on your own or deny they exist. Most boys are raised in families where they are taught not to ask for help and never show or express their emotions or feelings to anyone. Because of this type of upbringing, men don't want help or try to get help. They would rather just "Suck-it-up" and forget it! The majority of men never develop the words or a language to express how they feel. Vets simply do not take advantage of the services offered to them, and that's often due to guilt or pride. They don't want help from anybody, and they need help desperately.

Why do men, even powerful leaders, have so much difficulty asking for help, especially when it relates to their emotions? Men are often attracted to activities that give them an adrenaline rush. Such a rush makes them feel like they can accomplish anything. Also some men connect with a "Superman Complex" of being able to do anything or get away with anything. They don't need anybody's help. They just need people to stay out of their way. But what goes up must come down. When you're in the midst of an adrenaline crash, you often panic and feel too out of control to ask for help. Your first and foremost thought is fight or flight survival at any cost. In addition, a man's left and right brains don't function or communicate effectively with each other. This causes men to behave under stress as if they have two independently functioning brains. Their logical left or the emotional right brain are not in sync. This explains why many men behave either in a cold logical manner or in an explosively irrational one. Often when men are under pressure, their adrenaline or testosterone is off the chart. They are more apt to operate out of high emotion and low intelligence.

The last thing that men want to do is reach out for help or admit that there's a problem because their power is in question or their manhood is on the line. Men refuse to admit they're panicked, don't have an effective answer or solution, or that they make mistakes. Men's strength or power is measured by not needing anyone to help them and their level of weakness correlates to how many people they actually need. Men believe that asking for help lessens other people's respect or confidence in them.

The Culturalization of Men

Try to imagine Warren Buffet (American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist) or Ryan Lochte (US Olympic Swimmer) asking for help or therapy. The image just doesn't compute, does it? Neither one would admit to needing help. They wouldn't talk about their feelings or problems. Society demands that men need to be powerful, tough, independent, and unemotional. That is ingrained in boys, reinforced throughout childhood, and celebrated in the military. Due to a military environment of guns and out-of-control male testosterone and adrenalin, we have created an "Out of Control Rogue Wave" that can't be suppressed or reasoned with! Some of the fallout of this can be seen in three major areas: Military and Veteran Suicides, Mental Health Care for Veterans and Their Families, and Military Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment.

Military & Veteran Suicides

  • Over 6,500 veterans commit suicide each year.
  • Between 15-18 active duty and veteran men and women commit suicide daily.
  • Suicide rates within the National Guard and Reserves are at an all-time high.
  • There's been a drop in the suicide rate, but over a 35% rise in domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism, spousal abuse, drug addiction, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and divorce.

Mental Health Care for Veterans & Their Families

  • The VA offers a 5 year window to seek care for conditions caused by military service.
  • National Guard and Reservists don't have access to VA benefits.
  • Most veterans don't have access to VA facilities because they don't live close by.
  • Over 20% of all active servicemen and women suffer from a mental condition.
  • Mental health issues like Combat Stress, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), depression, Military Sexual Trauma (MST), anger, Combat Stress, or thoughts of suicide develop over time with varying degrees of symptoms, 2 months to 2-3 years.
  • Over 3 million veterans don't have private health insurance.
  • Over the next 50 years families will pay out-of-pocket more than $3.5 Billion a year for mental and physical health care for their veterans.
  • Over 30% of returning active duty personnel, veterans, National Guard, and Reservists were using alcohol, prescription, and illegal drugs to self-medicate their mental health issues.
  • Veterans have higher rates of dementia, heart disease, Alzheimer's, strokes, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, diabetes, or Chronic Disease than the general public.
  • Over 35% of military spouses live with a partner who is dealing with a mental health issue. 
  • Over 35% of all children of military personnel suffer from anxiety, depression, stress, and thoughts of suicide.
  • Without formidable Re-Entry Survival Teams, veterans and their families aren't able to sustain a quality of life and optimum mental and physical health they deserve and require.

Military Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment

  • Over 19,000 rapes and sexual assaults, along with thousands of sexual harassments, occur annually within the US Military, e.g., Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, Reserves, and Coast Guard.
  • "The military has a high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks and zero tolerance for those who report rape, sexual assault, and harassment!" Anonymous
  • Less than 3,000 rapes and sexual assaults are reported and less than 10% are prosecuted.
  • It is estimated that over 30% of the women who enlist in the U.S. Army will be raped by fellow soldiers or commanding officers.
  • Over the past decade 20% of servicewomen and 1% of men, an estimated 500,000 troops, have been raped or sexually assaulted by people they work alongside or know while serving.
  • "Our U.S. Military is capable of using a drone or missile to strike anywhere in the world with pin-point-accuracy repeatedly, but chronically fails to see 86% of their service personnel who were sexually assaulted and harassed." Anonymous 
  • Men of all ages and ethnicities are less likely than women to seek help for all sorts of problems including depression, substance abuse, and stressful life events even though they encounter those problems at the same or greater rates as women. Over 65% of mental health outpatient visits were made by women. Men's unwillingness to get help can harm their own mental and physical health, and can make life more difficult for them, their friends, and families.

Article Source: Why Veterans Don't Accept Help - Part 1

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