Journaling as a Tool to Treat PTSD

By Tania Meireles, WTC Stratcom

Michael Cain volunteers his time at Fort Bragg teaching Soldiers and Veterans how to write journals to work through feelings, especially those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

When Michael Cain’s son separated from the Army, he re-located to Fayetteville, NC, to help his son sell his house. He felt a need to stay there and support servicemembers in healing after war. Cain saw his friends come home from Vietnam as changed people and wanted to help those coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with writing about their feelings—as a way to heal.

“With the large number of military personnel being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), treatment options are as important as they’ve ever been,” Cain said. “Many have difficulty communicating effectively with behavioral health professionals, which complicates the healing process. Journaling provides a vehicle which allows servicemembers and Veterans to begin to draw out their feelings and memories without the perceived risk of speaking about them.”

For two years, Cain has volunteered at the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) and has worked with Soldiers who are struggling with PTSD. Even though the Army and Department of Defense are working to eliminate the stigma of seeking help for behavioral health issues, Soldiers may still feel reluctant to seek help. Cain believes journaling allows Soldiers, Veterans, and Families a way to address their thoughts. He meets with them one-on-one to help them get started.

“The basis of my work is to present journaling as a tool in the treatment of PTSD,” he said. “The workbook I’ve written to supplement this course includes definitions of PTSD and its symptoms, and a detailed discussion of how journaling can help to manage those symptoms. Throughout the workbook I’ve included writing assignments to help ease the Soldier into the writing process and to help them explore the causes of their pain. I know that some of the Soldiers I’ve worked with have experienced profound improvements in their well-being.”

For Fort Bragg Soldiers and Veterans interested in journaling, ask your squad leader or behavioral health provider about Cain’s course.

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  1. H.D. says:

    My husband, a 20 year Army SSG, came home from his 5th Iraq deployment exhibiting symptoms of PTSD that he had been suffering from undiagnosed for years. Being military myself, I was a combat medic and recognized his symptoms. I told him he was suffering from PTSD which he denied just like many of our hero soldiers. We finally got him officially diagnosed and stabilized medically and he’s doing wonderfully well. He still has night terrors and has lingering effects of his deployments and the multiple kills he made. After reading about journaling, I suggested it to my husband and it has had a PROFOUND affect on my husband. The enteries are sad, disheartening, scary, and at times unbelievable but it has done him wonders. It’s a way for him to get it out. I really never knew the extent of what he went through but after reading his journal, I can finally help him heal.

  2. Russell Zelman, COL (ret) USA says:

    Agree that VA Behavioral Health in clinics are not meeting our needs and that we should be taking care of our own even though in the publics eye PTSD is easily ‘fixed’. I would think that there should be easier ways to channel help for PTSD affected Soldiers and Marines fresh out of the box by Soldiers, NCO’s and Officers that won’t scare off the poorly informed, so that a career may not be jepordized. I am a prime example. This Blog has given me a spark to get back to the help others even though I am still fighting my own health care issues that seem to have no end. Thanks.

  3. Dekeither says:

    Journaling will also help the soldier in their case as supporting documentation. As we all know the more supportting documentation that you have, the clearer and more accurate of a determination can be made on your behalf. Every page counts towards helping you document your injury.

  4. taniameireles says:

    An AW2 spouse started a journal as a way to document her husband’s care and writing it became therapeutic for her. So much so that she turned her journal into a book to help other Families. To read more on journaling as a way to heal, visit .

  5. behavioral health software says:

    This is the first I’ve read about this type of treatment for PTSD. It really seems like a great outlet and good source of therapy for all that these soldiers have been through.

  6. Rosie Richardson, MSG (Retired) USA says:

    Thank you for volunteering your time with such wonderful population and for a great cause. I know from personal experience that journaling helps deal with symptoms of PTSD as well as depression.

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