Working through a trauma anniversary Veterans who experienced traumatic events during service often face an “anniversary reaction” when the anniversary date triggers the memory of the incident.

Because the date creates such a strong reminder of what happened, a veteran may feel edgy, stressed out, and as if he's living through the event again.


Triggers are unpredictable and occur anywhere, at any time. But there are strategies veterans can use to cope with what is often a symptom of PTSD.

Ways to Handle Your Anniversary Reaction

When the anniversary of a traumatic event approaches, there are ways to reduce the severity of your reaction. You can do this by:

  • Anticipating and preparing. If you’ve experienced this response before, you probably know that when the date approaches, you'll feel stressed and anxious. Being cognizant of the forthcoming date and working to keep your life calm and more peaceful during this time can help. Plan ahead so you eliminate as many stressful situations as possible.
  • Honoring. It may be helpful to create a plan that relates to whatever loss you experienced on that date. You may want to commemorate the date in some special way, contribute in some way to your community, or visit the graveside of someone you’ve lost. Honoring the person or the event in a meaningful way often helps reduce your anniversary reaction.
  • Knowing it won’t last. Most reactions don’t last long. Although some can go on for months, they typically end after a few weeks. Knowing that the stressful feelings you have are temporary can help reduce the anxiety you feel near and during the anniversary date.
  • Garnering support. Call on friends and loved ones to "have your six" as the anniversary approaches. Spending time with people you trust and who understand your situation will help lessen the depression, anxiety, and other stressors you may feel. 

Cuddigan Law Firm Can Help

If you’re a veteran who experiences symptoms of PTSD, including a trauma anniversary, it’s possible to qualify for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

If you need help service-connecting your mental health condition and want to file for benefits, contact Cuddigan Law. Our attorneys have supported veterans for years, and we’ll carefully examine your case and advise you on the best approach for receiving the maximum in disability benefits. Call us today, and you’ll speak to an intake specialist for free.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska