The Department of Veterans Affairs for PTSD invites the public to participate in its " Take the Step" campaign. Go online at www.ptsd.va.gov where the campaign highlights different topics so visitors can learn more about PTSD. Visitors can challenge their beliefs, explore the treatment options available and reach out to make a difference. The VA provides effective PTSD treatment for veterans and conducts extensive research on PTSD, including prevention of stress disorders. Veterans are encouraged to use the VA's PTSD resources so they are able to recognize symptoms and seek help if the need arises. The VA also encourages veterans to share what they learn with someone they know to build awareness and support systems. Following exposure to trauma, most people experience stress reactions but many do not develop PTSD. Mental health experts are not sure why some people develop PTSD and others do not. However, if stress reactions do not improve over time and they disrupt everyday life, the VA encourages veterans to seek help to determine if PTSD may be a factor. Many barriers keep people with PTSD from seeking the help they need. Knowledge and awareness, however, are key to overcoming these barriers. For those living with PTSD, knowing there are treatments that work, for example, can lead them to seek needed care. General public awareness of PTSD can help reduce the stigma of this mental heath problem and overcome negative stereotypes that may keep many people from pursuing treatment.

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The resent hiring of mental health providers and the continued mental health summits at the 152 medical centers, along with such programs as Take the Step, will allow the veteran and his or her family to better understand this problem. More information on this site includes PTSD Coach, an award-winning app that provides symptom management strategies and is always with needed; About Face, an online video gallery of veterans talking about PTSD and how treatment can turn one's life around, as well as continuing education opportunities for providers. Take the time to understand this problem effecting so many military men and women by going online. In honor of Independence Day, AMVETS Post 133, Mineral Wells, offers gift memberships to veterans as a salute to their service. Call 940-445- 0734 for a free membership. This offer is good through Sunday, July 7.