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#VAFail: Florida Army veteran shares struggles with mental health care at the VA

By Concerned Veterans for America

For many veterans, deployment doesn’t end when they come back home. The brutal memories from service haunt many veterans, leaving them isolated and confused.   

Access to quality mental health care is critical for veterans’ transition to civilian life. Sadly, Army veteran Brian Fay, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, struggled when he got home and lacked good resources for help. 

Although he was physically back home, at night, his mind took him back to what he experienced on deployment. 

I’d shoot out of bed from a dead sleep, the smell of smoke from a fire that’s not there still in my nostrils, the metallic taste of blood in my mouth. I’d wipe the sweat away and tell myself it was just a dream as I’d try the grounding techniques that I had learned online. 

The nightmares from my deployments over three years earlier made me feel like I was living in those moments, night after night. 

After some time trying to deal with these scars by himself, Brian mustered the courage to go to his local VA clinic and ask for help. However, he left with a long list of prescriptions and no answers.  

Brian knew he would not get the treatment he needed at the VA, but his choices to use his benefits outside of the VA system were very limited. 

Luckily, he was able to find the mental health care he needed, but only after a year of silent struggle and the help of his friends and family. Many veterans are not as lucky as him.  

Unfortunately, many veterans don’t have the same support system and are failing to get the treatment they need from the VA. The VA’s “one-size-fits-all” model of PTSD treatment often leaves veterans feeling like they are beyond fixing when it doesn’t work for them. 

That of course isn’t true, and the reason veterans need options in their mental health care. We’re able to find care and healing that works for our individual needs and circumstances when we have choices. 

Veterans put their lives at risk to defend America, and many bear the unseen scars of that sacrifice when they come home. Mental health is an issue of life or death for many, so they must have the ability to choose the care option that best suits them.  

Read more about how to ensure veterans get to choose the mental health care options best suited for them in Brian Fay’s powerful piece in Florida politics.