SAN ANTONIO – Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, affects more than 8 million Americans. Anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event could be diagnosed with the mental health condition.
According to the Chamber of Commerce and the most recent Joint Base San Antonio report, there are more than 200,000 veterans living in the San Antonio area. With one of the largest numbers of veterans living in a single location within the state, there are several local organizations determined to better the lives of veterans and their families who are affected by mental health illnesses.
The Wounded Warrior Project is a nationwide program that has a local office seeking to help veterans affected by PTSD, traumatic brain injury, combat stress or any other type of mental health condition, by offering three different treatment options, each specifically designed for different stages of the conditions.
After a careful evaluation, the Wounded Warrior Project will suggest a treatment that would best fit that person. Treatments are completely free and are funded by donor money.
Cristopher Escalante, a combat-stress recovery teammate with the Wounded Warrior Project, said those with PTSD might have a hard time accepting they have the disorder, or might not feel comfortable asking for help.
"Help is very needy, and very necessary," Escalante said. "It's unfortunate that 78% of the people that are registered with us have PTSD symptoms and not all of them are getting the help, or even reaching out for the help that they need."
"Know that you are not alone," Escalante said. "You can create a good support system that can be very beneficial to you and to you family. You deserve it."
Treatments with Wounded Warrior have been deemed successful by veterans and their families. "We are able to show them that life is still worth living. There's a lot of great things to do," Escalante said.
For more information on the Wounded Warriors Project, click here.
Endeavors is a nonprofit organization that strives to support veterans and their family members and help them to live better, healthy, more satisfying lives.
Dr. Jill Palmer, the senior director of clinic operations, said Endeavors provides many lines of services.
"Some of these programs include providing housing for homeless veterans or about to-be-homeless veterans," Palmer said. "We also have long-term living situations for adults, male and female, who have chronic mental health issues."
Palmer said Endeavors has facilities in three locations in Texas, that provide mental health services to affected veterans and their family members. Endeavors provides care for all types of mental health illnesses veterans may be experiencing, not just PTSD.
There are a few ways to access the mental health programs offered by Endeavors. You can call and make an appointment, or you can see a health clinician through Telehealth, which is face-to-face therapy online that you can receive anywhere at any time.
For more information on Endeavors, click here.
Sound Off is a local app that launched in 2019.
For years, the company has been working on creating a completely anonymous phone app, that allows veterans and service members struggling with mental health issues to get the help they deserve, without anyone knowing who they are.
This project hits especially close to home for Negley and his family. His sister, Sydney Mulder, was married to Navy Seal Bill Mulder. After serving for 20 years, Bill retired in January 2017 and six months later, he killed himself.
Mulder said she and her husband struggled mostly with how they could seek help and not jeopardize his career, family and security clearance.
"I think he would have used Sound Off if it were available to him," Mulder said. "Something that he could intimately and privately engage with and not feel that he needed to expose himself to his command, his work, his peers, me."
To access the app, download it and you will be assigned to a mental health clinician, or a "Battle Buddy," who is a peer who has gone through the same or similar experience.
You can schedule times to talk on the phone through the app, so your personal phone number will not be used.
"Research shows that at least approximately half of those veterans who are suffering the most never seek help," William Negley, the founder and CEO of Sound Off, said. "The biggest reason why: 'I don't want people to know I am seeking help.'"
By using this app, veterans and service members who are worried about seeking help because of concerns about loss of security clearance and other reasons won't have to worry because the service is 100% anonymous.
Negley said users are automatically given a username and that is how they are identified.
“When we say anonymity, we really mean it,” Negley said. “When we say we don’t know who they are, we don’t know who they are.”
For more information on Sound Off, click here.