PTSD- Let’s Talk About It
By Rick Stewart, Arapahoe County Veteran Service Officer
They have called it shell shock, battle fatigue and now PTSD. Whatever it might be called, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
is a serious emotional condition that, left untreated, can lead to a lifetime of difficulties.
So what exactly is PTSD? It is a psychiatric condition with serious physical and emotional affects. PTSD is basically an anxiety
disorder. It can develop after exposure to one or more traumatic events that threatened or caused great physical, psychological
or sexual harm. It is a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma.
A key element to PTSD is how we cope with witnessing disturbing events. Anyone who finds himself or herself in a traumatic
situation can develop PTSD. People who experience violence, death, serious injury or illness, sexual abuse or trauma in any
fashion can suffer from this condition. No matter how tough we are, exposure to traumatic events can leave a devastating wake.
Left untreated, PTSD can lead to substance abuse, antisocial behavior, sleep disturbances, physical disabilities, marital
difficulties and even suicide.
The biggest misconception is that having PTSD means you are “crazy.” This cannot be farther from the truth. Having PTSD means
you are human. It means that you are having trouble coping with traumatic experiences. Difficulty coping is a perfectly normal
human reaction to severe trauma. One should never feel ashamed of having difficulty coping with trauma. Seeking help for PTSD
is a sign of strength, not weakness.
There is a great support network available to veterans who are suffering from PTSD. The healing process will be difficult
and will feel like an up hill battle. It won’t be easy as the veteran will have to dig up very painful memories. The desire
to recover has to start with the veteran. Once the veteran has made the choice to start talking about their experiences, the
healing process begins by meeting with a good psychologist or psychiatrist.
Veterans can obtain help through the U.S. Veterans Administration or the VET CENTER, or can obtain a private counselor if
they have the resources. It is important that you work with someone you trust and feel is truly invested in you.
The VA also has established the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is staffed by qualified and caring individuals who are available
24 hours a day. They can be reached by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It has been estimated the hotline rescued 7,000 veterans
in 2010 who were on the brink of suicide.
If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, please seek immediate help from the VA or a qualified mental health professional.
Remember, you are not alone.
If you are a veteran and would like more information on resources for PTSD, or if you need assistance in filing a service
connected disability claim with the VA, please seek the professional advocacy of an accredited Veteran Service Officer. The
Arapahoe County Veterans Service Office can be reached at 303-738-8045.
September 2010: VA Moves Toward a Paperless System
June 2010: VA Proposes New Regulations to Assist Vietnam Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange