June is PTSD awareness month. As veterans, spouses, relatives or friends all of us have been in contact with those who suffer from this debilitating disease. It manifests itself in various different ways. Anger, despair and withdrawal are some of the symptoms. The attempt to avoid memories of the traumatic event lead those who suffer from this disease to isolate themselves from anything that may trigger their memory. The anger that the memory triggers at times will make it difficult for others to interact with the person who is afflicted with this disease. As Marines and veterans it is our duty to help our fellow veterans who may be afflicted. There is no shame for those who are truly suffering from this disease and we can help them by letting them know we understand and that there are resources accessible that can help.
Those who need treatment should be encouraged to find the help they need. Resources are available such as:
The Sidran Institute: 410-825-8888
Mental Health Service Locator: 800-662-4357
Veteran Help (VA) 877-222-8387
Many of those who are suffering turn to drugs and alcohol to "self-medicate”. They may not fully comprehend what is happening to them and how the trauma they suffered is affecting their day to day life. They just have an "empty” feeling and a vague feeling that something is "wrong”. As veterans we are in a unique position to reach out to our fellow comrades in arms and let them know that we understand and that there is help available. The American people have been extraordinarily generous to veterans in their financial support but more than money is required to identify and treat the ill-effects of PTSD. As veterans we can be the first line of defense. When you met a fellow veteran, listen carefully and observe. If you are in a position of trust and think your fellow veteran needs treatment do whatever you can to help. Let the veteran know that as Marines we never leave our comrades on the battlefield and that sometimes the greatest battles are fought after the combat is finished.