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Russian invasion taking mental health toll on some U.S. veterans, experts say

A clinic in Virginia Beach reported an influx of clients who said the photos and videos coming out of Ukraine are triggering their PTSD.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — With the heartbreaking images coming out of Ukraine, military veterans in Hampton Roads with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could be having a tough time right now.

The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at The Up Center in Virginia Beach offers mental health care services.

Outreach Manager Heather Wilson told 13NewsNow the clinic has seen a surge in clientele who have expressed the conflict in Ukraine is triggering their PTSD.

"We have had clients specifically come in to say they've been having a hard time with the images they've been seeing," she said. 

Wilson described how some veterans are dealing with mixed emotions, "just anger and sadness, but also that internal feeling of wanting to help."

With all these emotions bubbling up, she wants people to know how they can cope.

"Practicing gratitude, definitely reaching out to your support system and beyond that, professional help," she said. "Definitely reach out for services or even a battle buddy, if you have a battle buddy to reach out to them."

The Cohen Military Family Clinic also hosts support groups for various age groups. 

And while veterans are opening up to their support systems about their feelings, Wilson said it is okay to set boundaries.

"To say, 'I can't talk about this right now,' to set their own limits about what they can handle at the time," she added. 

Wilson also suggested limiting time on social media or exposure to photos and videos from Ukraine.

One of the resources available out there includes this 24-7 crisis hotline. According to The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the hotline is for veterans, service members and their families or friends.

Credit: 13News Now Graphic