For many veterans, the strain of combat doesn’t get left behind on the battlefield. It follows them home, haunting and threatening their transition to civilian life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues manifest in many ways, including altered moods, depression, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, and flashbacks. Unfortunately, these symptoms have come to define veterans’ lives after service. The stigmas attached to mental illness cause many to avoid seeking help.
The difficulty in using Veterans Affairs benefits and bureaucratic red tape obstructs access to much-needed mental health care and creates additional barriers that are daunting to overcome.
But one organization founded by veterans is working to change that.
Zach Iscol, a Marine Corps veteran, witnessed many friends grapple with their mental health after leaving the military. “I began losing more and more friends to suicide. I saw people struggling with drug addiction and alcohol. I saw marriages falling apart,” Zach said in a recent interview with Forbes. “I took more and more phone calls with friends late at night who were struggling.”
Those experiences drove Zach to seek a solution unique to veterans that would empower them to realize their full potential. Nearly 10 year years ago Zach helped create that solution through founding Headstrong.
Headstrong provides mental health care treatment for veterans and their families with an approach that’s desperately needed – cost-free, barrier-free, and stigma-free through donations to Headstrong and a coordinated, integrated network of clinicians who specialize in trauma therapy. Because the barriers that complicate treatment have been removed through Headstrong program, vets and their families can get right to the care they need.
Headstrong serves an estimated 1,000 veterans a month in 12 states. So far, the results have been astounding.
Headstrong programs have reported:
- 90 percent improved quality of life
- 82 percent saying they have fewer suicidal thoughts
- 76 percent improved mood
Those veterans aren’t just numbers and statistics. They are women and men who have started down a new path, with a new perspective on what they can achieve, and how they can pass those achievements on.
“What I want to do now more than anything is help vets in any way I can,” writes one Army veteran in a testimonial for Headstrong. “I want veterans to know there are no physical barriers that can’t be overcome.”
Veterans can triumph over even their worst experiences and traumas. Sometimes it just takes a fellow vet, such as Zach Iscol, to believe in them and provide the right resources.
Zach Iscol and Headstrong #BelieveinVeterans. Learn more about other veterans who are finding unique solutions to society’s biggest issues.