Disorders We See in Our Military and Veteran Population

February 21, 2023
military trauma

While military service can be a source of pride, it can also expose you and your family to unique stressors and mental health challenges. Though combat and deployment are obvious causes of conditions like PTSD and depression, overall military culture can also lead to difficulties. The effects of these issues can be wide-ranging and interconnected.

PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma

Any one-time or ongoing event that you find profoundly frightening or disturbing can cause lingering trauma. Active-duty service members and veterans are especially vulnerable to trauma due to the rigors of their job responsibilities.

PTSD typically manifests in symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, anxiety, hypervigilance and guilt. When you cannot mentally process what happened to you, your brain will force you to relive it in a seemingly endless loop. PTSD can be extremely upsetting, making you feel unsafe even at home and causing you to rearrange your life.

Sexual assault, harassment, coercion and other unwanted forms of attention are also widespread in the military, which can cause trauma, mistrust and chronic stress. Many survivors of military sexual trauma never report what happened to them due to issues like shame and fear. Making matters worse, the close-knit nature of military culture means that MST victims often have no easy way to escape their toxic work environment.


Military service demands a physical, mental and emotional commitment far beyond most civilian careers. Lengthy separations from loved ones, frequent relocations and exposure to distressing scenarios are common occurrences that can contribute to the odds of developing depression in the military. 

While active-duty service members are susceptible to depression, your mental health can also suffer when you choose to leave the service. Veterans are at significantly increased risk of suicide compared to civilians. Adjusting to civilian life can be challenging, causing you to lose your primary sense of purpose and self-worth.

Substance Use Disorders

Though all branches of the U.S. armed forces have defined strict substance use prevention protocols, those policies have failed to prevent the development of a military drinking culture. Active-duty personnel may binge drink to relax, celebrate or cope with mental health issues like depression, PTSD and anxiety. Because of this normalization, people tend to forget alcohol is an addictive drug that can cause a broad array of physical and mental health problems.

Military service members can also become addicted to drugs like prescription opioids after using them to manage chronic pain from injuries sustained on the job. Homelessness is common among military veterans, due in part to addiction and other mental and behavioral health problems.

PTSD and Trauma-Focused Outpatient Recovery in Clarksville, TN

Military culture emphasizes resilience, bravery and dedication. As a result, many current and former members of our armed forces never seek mental health treatment for various reasons, including denial, shame and unwillingness to admit they need help. Others worry that entering a treatment program would be too disruptive. 

Cumberland Heights in Clarksville offers outpatient recovery on your terms, offering morning and evening hours to fit your lifestyle. We also have telehealth treatment services for even more flexibility and accessibility. Our Clarksville center empowers you to participate in evidence-based mental health and addiction treatment without putting your life on hold. We have partnered with TRICARE to ensure military service members and their families can get the help they need. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.