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Coping when current events bring up past trauma – VAntage Point

Coping when current events bring up past trauma - VAntage Point

When armed conflict arises — no matter where in the world it happens — Veterans can experience a range of challenging emotions as events unfold. This can be especially true for combat Veterans who may be reminded of their own deployment experiences.

Common reactions to disturbing events

Feeling distress is a normal response to negative events, especially those that feel personal. Veterans may experience the following reactions in response to current events in Ukraine:

  • Feeling frustrated, sad, helpless, distressed (including moral distress), angry or betrayed.
  • Worrying about civilians, such as interpreters, who worked with the U.S. military in the region.
  • A spike in symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions.
  • Sleeping poorly.
  • Drinking more or using more drugs.
  • Trying to avoid reminders of disturbing events, including media coverage and social situations.
  • Having more memories of military experiences and homecoming.
  • Questioning the meaning and sacrifices of serving in the military.

Veterans also may feel that they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. They may:

  • Become overly protective, vigilant and guarded.
  • Become preoccupied with a sense of danger.
  • Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future.

It can be helpful to let yourself experience those feelings rather than trying to avoid them. Often these emotions will run their course naturally. However, if they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.

Strategies for managing ongoing distress

When current events bring up traumatic memories, it can be helpful to focus on the present and engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today – as a family member, parent or community member – that is important to you?

Can you put more energy into something meaningful in your work or your spirituality? These activities will not change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.

It can also help to ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you experiencing extreme thinking that views the situation as all bad or all good?

If so, try and think in less extreme terms. Rather than thinking, “My military service was useless,” consider instead “I helped keep the world safe.”

Consider more general coping strategies:

  • Engage in positive, healthy activities that are rewarding, meaningful or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, as they can lift your spirits.
  • Stay connected by spending time with people who give you a sense of security, calm or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
  • Practice good self-care by engaging in soothing activities, such as listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling or reading inspirational materials.
  • Stick to your routines and follow a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.
  • Limit your media exposure, especially if it’s increasing your distress.
  • Use a VA mobile app by visiting
  • Try PTSD Coach Online, a series of online videos that will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress.

When to consider professional help

If your distress is prolonged or you are unable to function well, consider seeking support. At VA, Veterans can connect with compassionate professionals who have the education and experience to help manage depression, anxiety, PTSD, moral injury, complicated grief and other conditions that may be aggravated by current events.

  • Every VA facility has mental health specialists. Visit to find a provider near you.
  • Talk about your reactions in community-based VA Vet Centers, where over 70% of staff are Veterans themselves. Call 1-800-WAR-VETS or find a Vet Center near you.
  • Go to, an online resource designed to connect Veterans, their family members and friends, and other supporters with information, resources and solutions to issues affecting their lives — including challenging life events or experiences and mental health issues.
  • If you feel as if you might hurt yourself or someone else, reach out now. Through the Veterans Crisis Line, confidential support is 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
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Explore a VA career at upcoming recruiting events – VAntage Point

Explore a VA career at upcoming recruiting events - VAntage Point

With jobs open at VA facilities across the country, our recruiters are hard at work meeting with potential new hires, at both virtual and in-person events.

We’ll be attending:

Join us at one of these events and find out what it means to work at VA, where we value top talent and our employees. Support those who served and enjoy a wealth of benefits, including competitive pay, high-quality insurance plans, generous time off and more.

Connect virtually at AMSUS

First up is a chance to meet our recruiters online at the AMSUS Virtual Annual Meeting from Feb. 22-25.

AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals, is a nonprofit organization serving VA, Department of Defense and other organizations. It aims to support federal health professionals and their families, and it advocates for advancing and improving health for all Americans.

The annual meeting, which you can register for here, will feature live-streamed plenary and breakout sessions, speakers and Q&A sessions. VA recruiters will be available at virtual booth 5.

Virtual open house

Next, we’ll be hosting a virtual career fair on Wednesday, Feb. 23. Get tailored answers to your specific questions about VA careers through a text chat with one of our recruiters.

We’re searching for those who work in critical care units, including the intensive care unit and the progressive care unit, as well as medical-surgical units, mental health departments and community living centers.

There will be a booth for the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, which is looking for full-time, permanent registered nurses, health technicians and nursing assistants, as well as specialty booths for physician assistants, medical technologists and medical support assistants.

Learn about orthopedic careers at VA

We’ll also be attending the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting in Chicago from March 22-26. Stop by our booth and explore how you can grow your orthopedic career at VA.

Register here to join world leaders for five days of innovation, education and networking at this world-renowned conference. AAOS requires that attendees be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID test.

Explore opportunities for Hispanic physicians

The National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) represents the interests of 50,000 Hispanic licensed physicians across the U.S.

The NHMA annual meeting is March 30-April 4 in Crystal City, Virginia, and includes workshops, panels, continuing medical education and networking. Register here to attend.

At VA, we’re committed to ensuring that our staff reflects the diversity of the Veterans that we serve, and we’ll be on hand to discuss physician opportunities at VA.

Consider an executive career

Join VA at the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Congress on Healthcare Leadership in Chicago from March 28-31. Attend educational and networking sessions and meet our recruiters at the VA booth.

Millions of Veterans count on VA to improve the quality of their lives with exceptional health care. Speak to our recruiters to learn how you can help us deliver on this very important mission with a leadership career at VA.

For your safety, attendees must be fully vaccinated. Make sure to register by March 7 for an early-bird discount.

Explore family physician careers

The Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians welcomes family physicians to register for its Annual Meeting and Exposition, themed “Smarter Together; Stronger Together; BETTER Together.”

The event will be held from March 30-April 4 at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, California. Learn and connect through lecture sessions, workshops and a research competition.

Don’t forget to stop by the VA booth and meet our recruiters. They’ll be on hand to chat about how you’ll receive unparalleled opportunities to enjoy the science of medicine and grow as a professional at VA.

Find more information and register for the event here.

Work at VA

Are you ready to take the next step toward a rewarding VA career? Join us at an upcoming event.

Note: Attendance at these events is subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.