Getting Real about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Department of Defense: Augmenting Exposure Therapy through Virtual Reality
Journal of Veterans Studies
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that occurs after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The condition may persist for months or years with symptoms such as intense nightmares, unwanted memories of the traumatic event, heightened reactions, anxiety, and depressive-mood periods. Conversations around PTSD among military members and veterans are ubiquitous, but integration of technologically advanced, evidence-based care is currently underleveraged. The
... ed for treatment of PTSD in the United States armed forces is significant and growing. Since 2001, the US has deployed more than 2.7 million men and women to contingency operations in or supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Availability of evidence-based care for all our veterans and servicemembers who need treatment is critical to enhance full-spectrum societal health and military readiness. Virtual reality aided exposure therapy is among the leading technologies that can offer dramatic enhancement of the effectiveness and availability of treatment of our men and women who have served-or continue to servein uniform. As the US ends two decades of deployment engagement in Afghanistan, we cannot forget how invisible wounds of war remain with the servicemembers. Virtual reality therapy should be leveraged to increase treatment quality and capacity of PTSD. The consequences of poorly or untreated PTSD produces deleterious effects on the armed forces and society at-large; virtual reality therapy creates an opportunity to minimize or reverse that effect.