The mental and physical impact of war has gone by many names – soldier’s heart, shell shock, battle fatigue and combat stress reaction, to name a few.

Today, we know all these diagnoses as post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD manifests itself in many ways, from an increased heart rate and replaying past events to insomnia and nightmares or sometimes just not feeling quite right.

For those in the military, PTSD is often the result of trauma in combat, jarring events and sights, or injuries. It’s difficult to come down from the heightened sense of readiness and hyper-vigilance.

Transitioning back to civilian life is a near-impossible task, as civilians haven’t been through the same experiences. Trying to connect with those who don’t understand often leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Fortunately, we live in an era with the best care for post-traumatic stress available, not just from the Department of Veterans Affairs but from those in the community stepping up to help vets.

Healing invisible wounds with fewer barriers

PTSD is an invisible wound. Its symptoms may not be obvious to those living with its sufferers, and even less so to others. But PTSD takes an incredible physical, mental and emotional toll, especially when you throw the complexity and bureaucracy of treatment on top.

That’s where Headstrong comes in to help.

Founded by Marine Corps veteran Zach Iscol, Headstrong provides treatment programs for post-9/11 veterans for PTSD, addiction, anxiety, grief and a host of other conditions.

While treatment can also be found through hospitals and the VA, those systems are often fraught with red tape, long wait times and high costs that drive away potential patients. But Headstrong has identified these barriers and created a way around them.

Headstrong offers “cost-free, bureaucracy-free and stigma-free” treatments to address PTSD and related symptoms. It tailors treatment to each patient with a combination of psychiatric care, psychotherapy, support groups and mind-body techniques.

So far, Headstrong has treated more than 1,100 veterans, giving them a better handle on their mental health and related physical symptoms.

For many, the military-civilian divide is too wide to cross by themselves. But for veterans such as Zach Iscol, taking care of their own with a full understanding of their experiences has a powerful impact.

See Project Headstrong featured in CVAF’s documentary, The Care They’ve Earned.