Just in time for Veterans’ Day, there’s a growing realization that America’s 24 million vets are experiencing domestic violence in greater numbers than the general population at large.
Two professors at Washington University in St. Louis are teaming up to address this problem. One’s a specialist in post-traumatic stress disorder, while the other works with domestic violence.
“Treatments for domestic violence are very different from those for PTSD,” Monica Mattieu, Ph.D., an expert in vets’ mental health at Washington University, told Medical News Today. “The Department of Veterans Affairs has mental health services and treatments for PTSD, yet these services need to be combined with the specialized domestic violence intervention programs offered by community agencies for those veterans engaged in battering behavior against intimate partners and families.”
VA research shows that male vets with PTSD are two to three times more likely than vets without PTSD to be engaged in domestic violence and/or the legal system.
Vets are at higher risk anyway, partly due to the violence combat vets became accustomed to on the battlefield. Some of it may be due to traumatic brain injuries they brought home. But much of it is due to the depression and anger many combat vets experience. The Rand Corp recently released a report that said one in three vets will return home needing medical help for PTSD, TBI, major depression or a combination al all three.
“Veterans need to have multiple providers coordinating the care that is available to them, with each provider working on one treatment goal,” said Mattieu. Coordinated community response efforts such as this bring together law enforcement, the courts, social service agencies, community activists and advocates for women to address the problem of domestic violence.”
Again, the whole focus should be on understanding the cause of a problem and working to fix it, rather than the hard-nosed — and ultimately unworkable — approach of locking people up and throwing away the key. Our corrections system is a classic failure, so we have to create new approaches that will be more effective. As they say in the treatment community, insanity is continuing the same tactics and hoping for different outcomes.