Anxiety, insomnia, hostility and social isolation are all symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a psychiatric disorder which is characterized by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs estimates that 7.6 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives; this includes both veterans and non-service members.
June 27 is National PTSD Awareness Day, and Augusta University is committed to reintegrating veterans into civilian life and offers many services for those who have been diagnosed or may be struggling with PTSD.
“We have a lot of capacity to provide professional help on this campus,” said Carol Giardina, director of military and veterans services. “I think the research shows that the sooner you get some kind of assistance for management of the anxiety, depression or sleep disorders that go along with PTSD, the better you might be able to cope and the more successful you might be.”
Giardina refers veterans suffering from PTSD to first visit Testing and Disability Services.
“If a veteran divulges that they have PTSD, we encourage them to go to Disability Services because they can make accommodations for someone who is suffering,” Giardina said.
She cautions students against self-medicating to treat their symptoms.
“The most common response we get is ‘I’m handling this,’” Giardina said. “The danger with handling something yourself is you have anxiety and depression. Some may choose to self-medicate because they find strategies to make themselves feel better and provide temporary relief. However, there is a danger in putting a band-aid on a problem but not getting comprehensive services that can help.”
Giardina also encourages students to take advantage of services offered by Student Counseling & Psychological Services. Counseling is free for students enrolled at Augusta University, and SCaPS provides direct psychotherapy services, assessment of academic problems and psychiatric consultation. Individual counseling and trauma services are also available.
The Office of Military and Veteran’s Services also provides training for faculty and staff called Green Zone training. It is primarily for those who work with veterans, but Giardina believes the training is a learning opportunity for all faculty and staff.
“The training provides information that can help faculty and staff better understand a person currently in the military or a veteran who is trying to make a transition to civilian life in a brick-and-mortar school,” she said.
Green Zone Training also educates faculty and staff on the signs and symptoms of PTSD. Giardina encourages faculty to develop a rapport with students they believe may be struggling.
“If you get to know the student, you might be able to guide them to services that will help them be a better student,” she said.
For more information about Green Zone Training and services available to students struggling with PTSD, contact Carol Giardina. To learn more about post traumatic stress disorder, visit the Department of Veteran’s Affairs National Center for PTSD.