I’ve actually done EMDR therapy and been the most helpful in my journey, so I’m a BIG advocate for it. These days I don’t believe most veterans are struggling with PTSD (and if I had the time I could back that up with data), but either Moral Injury or a Transition Disorder. PTSD is treatable and involves exposing yourself slowly to the stimuli that caused the trauma (i.e. going down a dark ally or something like fireworks that invokes the past trauma). PTSD explained my aversion for years to fireworks, but didn’t explain why I would stare at a photo of a dead enemy combatant or still struggled losing my best friend in combat. It could be linked, sure, but it was more the psychological bruise on my soul. EMDR really helped deprogram me towards those traumas and move on after almost 20 years of carrying them around.
I agree that the VA is a hot, hot mess. I tell people all the time I have universal healthcare (i.e. the VA) and that it’s awesome and absolutely horrible at the same time. Even though I’m in their Tier 1 category based on injuries sustained, it’ll be a couple months before I can even be seen. It’s free, but sometimes I wonder if one day I’ll keel over dead waiting for an appointment, ha. That said, for combat veterans (and combat veterans only) the VA DOES offer EMDR through a subsidiary of the VA called The Vet Center. I’ve recommended it to several of my friends.