War at Home

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They're used to fighting an enemy they can see, but now they're in combat with a different type of foe.

Many veterans and active duty service members have to find a way to cope with the flashbacks and nightmares that haunt them.

The military has recognized the need to make treatment available to any veteran.

"Our active duty as well.. we're having more of them coming back from combat situations that need to have services," says Dr. Stephanie Dutton, a Clinical Director of Military Services, "the VA... they're not even able to handle that load, and this is the first time that they've said we need to have private services to be able to assist with that."

There are only 11 private facilities in the country that offer services specifically for the military, and one of them is now open in Panama City.

It's called the Resiliency Program at Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital.

"I think it's amazing to be able to offer this. We have so many bases around this community - Eglin, Tyndall, the Navy base - I think it's really needed right now especially in our times," says Megan Eustis, a social worker.

Eustis grew up in a military family and understands the toll it can take on not only the person in service, but also their family members. She explains that it's important for the family to be educated about the conditions and symptoms.

The Resiliency Program was started because of the urging of area military bases.

One of the military's key changes is behavioral testing on all service members returning from deployment. So far, local bases have been pleased with the outcomes.

The treatment provided at the Resiliency Center is multifaceted.

"When they come in, we do a psycho-social assessment within 72 hours of when they come in...so we can see what's going on with them," Eustis explains, "we meet as a treatment team and see where their treatment is going to go."

The length of stay depends on the type of treatment required.

Program workers say the service members get their best therapy when they talk to other service members even though they may not have even served during the same wars.

"Having a specific military program where they come here and they're with peers who understand one another that's what I really think works here in the program," says Dr. Dutton, "they're in a group together with other people who can sit there and say I understand where you're coming from....some of the best healing comes from their peers."

Many workers say breaking the stigma of "getting help" is a huge hurdle.

"You never show pain, you never show emotion, you never cry and in particular with men. We've been brought up you know, all these generations where we don't show our emotions, but it's until you can show those emotions and you can get through that, that progress is made in the treatment," says Navy veteran and registered nurse David Smith.

The majority of the staff has either served in the military or has grown up in a military family.

The resiliency program works with service members on everything from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to substance abuse.

Emerald Coast Behavioral Hospital can help provide intervention, identify the appropriate level of care, conduct free assessments, and make referrals when necessary.

Assessments are available 24 hours every day. To arrange a confidential assessment at no cost, call 850.763.0017 or toll-free at 1.800.543.2919 and ask to speak with an assessment and referral counselor.

You can email them at emeraldcoastbehavioral.com.


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