Psychology Effects of Coronavirus on Veterans

  • While this is a rapidly evolving situation, the VA has verified 130 Positive Veteran Cases to date.
  • If you have PTSD, you may have stronger stress reactions than normal.
  • If you're a Veteran you've been trained to handle stress before.

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) AKA “The Coronavirus” is undoubtedly stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. There is evidence that coping with stress will make you, your loved ones, and our community stronger. For Veterans, this crisis can be doubly challenging.

Draw upon your spirituality, those who inspire you or your personal beliefs and values…..”Rangers Lead The Way”!

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is nationally tracking Veteran patients with either a CDC confirmed or a locally, presumptively confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

While this is a rapidly evolving situation, the VA has verified 130 Positive Veteran Cases to date.

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has the potential to increase stress and anxiety, both because of the fear of catching the virus and because of uncertainty about how it will affect us.

If you have PTSD, you may have stronger stress reactions than normal. Feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness and doubt are normal during a pandemic.

Fortunately, there are tools and resources that can help you manage your mental health and well-being. The following suggestions may help you deal with stress during these times of uncertainty:

Just Breathe

  • Steady breathing and muscle relaxation can help prevent stress.
  • If you’re a Veteran you’ve been trained to handle stress before.
  • You’re here.
  • You get to choose a stress reaction, Fight, Freeze or Flight.
  • Since there’s nowhere to run to and the “Deer in the Headlights” isn’t my thing, I chose to fight.

Lead by Example

  • Be positive.
  • Stay positive
  • Remind people that we have seen difficult times before…. particularly young people who have no 9/11 reference.
  • Demonstrate “Cooperate to Graduate” and “Teamwork makes the Dream Work” Mentalities

Stay Connected

  • Seek support from family, friends, mentors, clergy and those who are in similar circumstances.
  • Be flexible and creative in using phone, email, text messaging and video calls.
Talk to your health care provider if your stress seems intolerably overwhelming.

Cultivate Ways to be More Calm

  • Realize that it is understandable to feel anxious and worried about what may happen.
  • If you find that you are getting more stressed by watching the news, reduce your exposure, particularly prior to sleep.
  • Practice slow, steady breathing and muscle relaxation, as well as any other actions that are calming for you (yoga, exercise, music, meditation).
  • Try using the VA PTSD Coach mobile app, or VA PTSD Coach online for more stress reduction tools.
  • Improve Your Sense of Control and Ability to Endure
  • Accept situations that cannot be changed and focus on what you can alter.
  • Modify your definition of a “good day” to meet the current reality of the situation.
  • Problem-solve and set achievable goals within the new circumstances in your life.
  • Remain Hopeful
  • Consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.
  • Celebrate successes, find things to be grateful about and take satisfaction in completing tasks, even small ones.
  • Give yourself small breaks from the stress of the situation by doing something you enjoy.
  • Draw upon your spirituality, those who inspire you or your personal beliefs and values…..”Rangers Lead The Way“!

Let’s all strive to recognize, acknowledge and accept the reality of the situation. We can do that by preparing to feel overwhelmed or overly distressed, as mentioned above. Preparation can make you feel more in control if these feelings arise and help you move through them quickly.

There are also behaviors that DON’T help. Obviously, abuse of alcohol and drugs should be avoided.

Talk to your health care provider if your stress seems intolerably overwhelming.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

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Dana Matthews

Dr Dana Matthews is a Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Ranger (Retired). He holds a BA in Journalism, an MBA/JD Law Degree, and a Doctorate in Organizational Psychology.He is a Member of the National Press Club in Washington DC and has appeared on TV and Radio.He was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart for Combat Wounded Veterans.Dr Dana Matthews is a well published Journalist and writer with articles appearing in the Scripps Newspaper/ TCPALM.COMHe also co authored and published a novel entitled " El Segundo- One Man's Journey for Redemption". 

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