PTSD / TBI

The National Center for PTSD is dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD. They work to assure that the latest research findings help those exposed to trauma. Please visit their website at: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

Medical centers within the VA has PTSD specialists who provide treatment for Veterans with PTSD. Plus, the VA provides nearly 200 specialized PTSD treatment programs. A referral is usually needed to access the specialty programs. You can use this VA PTSD Program Locator to see if there is a specialized program near you. NOTE: If you are in crisis dial 911 or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Not all VA's offer the same programs. Your doctor can help you decide which program is best for you. This fact sheet describes the specialized PTSD programs and also the other options within VA for getting PTSD treatment.

Who is Covered for VA Care?

VA services are provided to all Veterans who have the following:

  • Completed active military service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard (or Merchant Marines during WW II).

Discharged under other than dishonorable conditions includes National Guard members and

  • Reservists who have completed a federal deployment to a combat zone

At times, the VA has special agreements to provide care to Active Duty service members and family.

What Services Are Offered?

Each PTSD program offers education, evaluation, and treatment. Program services include:

  • One-to-one mental health assessment and testing
  • Medicines
  • One-to-one psychotherapy and also family therapy
  • Group therapy (covers topics such as anger and stress, combat support, partners, or groups for Veterans of specific conflicts

The VA provides treatments shown by research to be effective in treating Veterans. To learn about these treatments and the VA provider training programs, Please visit their website at: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

Services are conducted by mental health care workers. For more information about types of mental health care workers, see our fact sheet Finding and Choosing a Therapist.

PTSD Specialists

Every VA Medical Center has providers that have been trained to offer PTSD treatment. Please be aware that even if your VA Medical Center does not have one of the special PTSD programs described below, you can still get effective PTSD treatment. Ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health provider who is a PTSD specialist. Below you will also find information about other options for getting PTSD treatment within VA.

Specialized Outpatient PTSD Programs (SOPPs)

SOPPs include three basic types of clinics. At these outpatient (not live-in) clinics, you can meet with a provider on a regular basis.

  • PTSD Clinical Teams (PCTs) provide group and one-to-one treatment.
  • Substance Use PTSD Teams (SUPTs) treat the combined problems of PTSD and substance abuse.
  • Women's Stress Disorder Treatment Teams (WSDTTs) provide women Veterans both one-to-one and group treatment.

Specialized Intensive PTSD Programs (SIPPs)

SIPPs provide PTSD treatment services within a "therapeutic community." Many programs are residential (live-in). Activities offered are social, recreational (relax), and vocational (work), as well as counseling.

  • PTSD Day Hospitals (DH) are outpatient. They provide one-to-one and group treatment for 4-8 hours each visit. Patients come in daily or several times a week.
  • Evaluation and Brief Treatment of PTSD Units (EBTPUs) provide PTSD treatment for a brief time ranging from 14 to 28 days.

PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Programs (PRRPs) provide PTSD treatment and case management. The goal is to help the trauma survivor return to healthy living in the community. Stays at a PRRP tend to be 28 to 90 days long.

Specialized Inpatient PTSD Units (SIPUs) provide trauma-focused treatment. Hospital stays last from 28 to 90 days.

PTSD Domiciliary (PTSD Dom) provides live-in treatment for a set period of time. The goal is to help the Veteran get better and move to outpatient mental health care.

Women's Trauma Recovery Program (WTRP) was opened by the VA in Palo Alto, CA, in 1992. This live-in program focuses on war zone-related stress as well as Military Sexual Trauma (MST). In the program Veterans can work on skills needed to deal comfortably with other people. The program is 60 days long.

Other Options

Some VA medical centers are now offering walk-in clinics. By walking into the primary care clinic, a Veteran can be seen that day by a mental health provider.

Other VA treatment locations where a Veteran can get PTSD treatment include:

  • Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs)
    • Primary care programs
    • Provide care in a local setting
    • Services include mental health care (some locations)
  • Vet Centers are operated by VA's Readjustment Counseling Service. Call toll free during normal business hours: (Eastern) 1-800-905-4675, OR (Pacific) 1-866-496-8838.
    • Located outside medical facilities
    • Many workers are Veterans
    • Provide a mix of counseling and help with accessing other programs
    • No information about your treatment will be given to any person or agency (including the VA) without your consent

In Summary

The goal of the VA is to provide the best care for our Veterans.

Go to the VA Facilities Locator to find a VA medical center, an outpatient clinic, or a Vet Center. You can also find a specialized PTSD program using the VA PTSD Program Locator.

Call VA Benefits: 1-800-827-1000

Call VA Health Care Benefits: 1-877-222-8387