We have 1.5 million men and women serving in the military and more than 22 million veterans. Returning to civilian life after the military is a transition that can be difficult for service members especially if they have injuries or mental health issues such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—they don’t have to do this alone.

Occupational therapy can help service members and veterans with a variety of issues such as transitioning to civilian life, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, driving rehabilitation, community reintegration, and much more. 

Whether occupational therapy practitioners are working for the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs (VA), or in another setting, the services and interventions they provide can help our wounded service members and veterans have a full life. 

With PTSD, occupational therapy can help a veteran develop coping strategies, focus on stabilizing symptoms, assist in helping the individual participate in meaningful roles, and more. For traumatic brain injuries, occupational therapy is a key rehabilitation profession that helps the veteran reintegrate in their community. 

AOTA has many resources about working with service members and veterans including this fact sheet on PTSD, this fact sheet about community reintegration after a traumatic brain injury, this emerging niche article about rehab for wounded warriors, and this emerging niche article about veteran and service member’s mental health.    

By the way, if you think it would be pretty inspiring to work with wounded warriors and veterans, let me just say you might be on to something. From the emerging niche series:

“It’s an opportunity to serve your country,” says Captain Tammy Phipps, CPT, US Army Reserve, MS, OTR/L, CDRS, an army reservist on active duty. “It’s an absolute honor to be able to be a part of their care and provide them with independence.” Stephanie Johnson, MS, OTR/L, a civilian occupational therapist, believes that wounded warriors are some of the best clients practitioners will ever have. “They are highly motivated, always put forth the maximum effort, and the outcomes you see are just amazing.”

By the way, if you're going to be at AOTA's Conference & Expo next week in Indianapolis, be sure to check out the plenary session on Saturday, April 28 that features Army occupational therapy! There will be some special guests in attendance—Lieutenant Colonel Tammy Duckworth and former POW Jessica Lynch. Watch this video for more info. You won't want to miss it.

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