NewsPublic Affairs / April 3, 2014

Outreach Key in Dealing with PTSD

Of the roughly 490,000 Hoosier veterans, the American Legion Director of Rehabilitation predicts about a third seek mental health treatment after returning from combat. John Hickey thinks many of them go untreated because of stigmas associated with counseling among soldiers. 2014-04-03T00:00:00-04:00

Authorities say the shooter who killed three people and injured 16 others at Fort Hood Wednesday was under evaluation for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, after serving in Iraq in 2011.

Ivan Lopez took his own life after the shooting spree.

“As we come together to acknowledge the good work all of you are doing in supporting our veterans and National Guard members, we are burdened by the tragedy that took place yesterday at Fort Hood in Texas," said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.  "Hoosiers across our state mourn the loss of life and injury at Fort Hood and stand with grateful hearts with those who serve at home and abroad.”

As Director of Rehabilitation for the Indiana American Legion, John Hickey helps veterans obtain benefits such as disability compensation which includes PTSD services.

He says the more exposure a soldier has to combat, the more likely they are develop mental health issues.

"You see some horrible things as a combat veteran that most people don't experience during their lifetime," he said.  "You can just imagine the different things that happen during combat that a personal in normal experiences wouldn't encounter."

The symptoms may never go away, but Hickey says learning to manage them prevents them from getting worse.

"Knowing about what the symptoms are and why they have those symptoms helps," he said.  "They seem to be able to get along better with their families and on their jobs if they seek treatment.  And, it doesn't get worse.  It doesn't have the tendency to get as bad as what it would be without treatment."

There are about 490,000 Hoosier veterans.   Hickey thinks about a third of those returning from combat seek mental health assistance, but believes many of them go untreated because of stigmas associated with counseling among soldiers

"A lot of times we see that the military person doesn't want to focus much, especially on mental health problems, while they are still in the service because it affects their ability to be promoted and sometimes even stay in service," said Hickey.

Hickey says there are drop in services in Indiana that allow veterans to seek same day counseling, specifically when they are having suicidal thoughts.




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