Coping with Current Events in Ukraine: A Guide for Working with Veterans

Coping with Current Events in Ukraine: A Guide for Working with Veterans

Guest Blog by Dr. Patricia Watson

The events in Ukraine can serve as a powerful reminder of prior military experiences for Veterans. As events in Ukraine continue to unfold, you may notice a variety of reactions which may include:

  • Feelings of frustration, sadness, helplessness, distress (including moral distress), anger or betrayal
  • Experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
  • Sleeping poorly, drinking more or using more drugs
  • Trying to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
  • Having more military and homecoming memories
  • Questioning the meaning of their own service
  • Having empathy for the people in Ukraine and wanting to help in some way
  • Feeling the need to prepare for the United States becoming drawn into a war
  • Become more protective, vigilant and guarded
  • Become preoccupied by danger
  • Feeling a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future

These types of reactions are expected and understandable for veterans. One important way we can support Veterans is by encouraging clients to experience these feelings rather than avoiding them. As you are aware, often these feelings will naturally run their course. However, until they do we can support Veterans to honor and make allowances for the fact that they may be experiencing some of the above reactions. We can also recommend they seek support and get help when feeling overwhelmed or flooded by their emotions. In addition, here is a handout that you can provide to the Veterans you serve to help them at this time.

Download the handout below here: Strategies for Veterans: Managing Ongoing Distress Related to Ukraine

Ready to learn more about more about how to best serve Veterans?

Join Dr. Watson for an upcoming LIVE webinar:

Applying Military Cultural Competence for More Effective Care for Veterans

This webinar will focus on improving quality of treatment for Veterans by integrating research and knowledge of military culture into client care. It will focus on a client-centered approach to caring for Veterans, with a focus on effective communication, how that culture may affect the self and world views of Veterans, the impact of current events on Veterans’ wellbeing, barriers to care, and improving assessment and treatment planning for Veterans. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify implications of military culture on healthcare for Veterans.
  • Describe tips for assisting Veterans who are dealing with the impact of current events.
  • Describe the importance of incorporating culturally-informed principles into practice, based on knowledge of the challenges and strengths of being a Veteran.

Presented by: Patricia Watson, PhD

Continuing Education Units: 1.5 CEUs – This training is approved for 1.5 CEUs by the following professional organizations:


  • National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC)
  • National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)*
  • International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC)

*CASAT has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6492. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. CASAT is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.


  • Nevada Board of Examiners for Alcohol, Drug, & Gambling Counselors
  • Nevada State Board of Nursing
  • Board of Examiners for Marriage and Family Therapists and Clinical Professional Counselors
  • State of Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers

Additional self-paced classes offered by CASAT Learning that will help you to better serve Veteran clients:

Serving Veterans and Members of the Military: SELF-PACED ONLINE COURSE

Serving Veterans and Members of the Military is a look at the different resources options for those who treat service members.

Continuing Education Units: 1 CEU

Gambling Problems in US Military Veterans: SELF-PACED ONLINE COURSE

This online training will cover gambling problems among US Military Veterans. A review of the current/relevant studies will be discussed. Several case vignettes of veterans with gambling disorder and other mental health disorders will be shared and discussed with the audience. This discussion will be guided by data collected from two VA studies. Discussion around ways of engaging veterans into care with problem gambling. We will review data on screening for at-risk/problem gambling from two VA studies. We will discuss strategies for effective screening when working with veterans and non-veterans.

Learning Objectives:

  • Review co-occurring mental health disorders associated with Gambling Disorder among military veterans.
  • Identify barriers to military veterans getting help for their gambling problem.
  • Discuss screening and treatment approaches for treating veterans with Gambling disorder.

Continuing Education Units: 1.5 CEUs

Your Turn: What reactions are you seeing in your Veteran clients with regards to the war in Ukraine

Additional resources may be found on the CASAT OnDemand Resources & Downloads page.

This article was developed by Dr. Patricia Watson and Haslem, M.S. Feel free to use, link to, or distribute this information. A link to our site and attribution would be much appreciated.

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