For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

Oahu vets can now use
toll-free phone number

Question: I heard there is a new toll-free phone number to ask about VA benefits.

Answer: As of July 1, veterans throughout the Pacific U.S. territories and Oahu will be able to dial the national benefits toll-free number, 1-800-827-1000, to obtain general benefits information and the status of benefit payments. Neighbor-island veterans have had access to this number for years. Medical appointments at the Honolulu VA Medical Center can still be arranged toll-free from most areas by dialing (800) 214-1306. Other toll-free numbers are: VA Educational Program, 888-442-4551; Home Loan Eligibility, 888-487-1970; VA Life Insurance, 800-669-8477; CHAMPVA, 800-733-8387; Gulf War or Agent Orange, 800-749-8387; and Telecom Device for the Deaf, 800-829-4833.

Q: What kinds of treatments exist for post-traumatic stress disorder ?

A: PTSD is treated by psychotherapy and medication. The most widely used drug treatments for PTSD are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac and Zoloft.

Psychotherapy that appears to be most effective are cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy and group therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the veteran's thoughts about the trauma. Exposure therapy involves having the patient repeatedly relive the traumatic experiences under controlled conditions to help him or her work through the trauma. Group therapy may entail the discussion of the traumatic events and/or current life with a group of people going through the same thing. Other forms of group therapy help treat certain symptoms, such as anger management and stress management training.

Families who are experiencing difficulties may also want to get help as a unit, through couples counseling, couples communication classes and family therapy. For more information on couples or family counseling, contact the VA at 973-8387. PTSD treatment information is available from the VA Medical Clinic by calling (800) 214-1306 and hit No. 1 for mental health, or by contacting the Pacific Center for PTSD located on Oahu at 566-1935.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin, can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at gkakesako@starbulletin.com.

See also: In The Military

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