In 2014, the United States Senate designated the month of June as PTSD Awareness Month.
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, develops after a person experiences a traumatic event.
Veterans make up a large portion of Americans suffering from PTSD, likely because of things they have witnessed or experiences while in combat.
“Trauma changes people and how they look at themselves, how they look at the world and others. Not everybody that deploys would come back with PTSD, but they definitely would have readjustment symptoms,” said Jennifer Pierce, a clinical social workers with the Wheeling Vet Center.
People with PTSD may experience depression or anxiety, feelings of hopelessness or a lack of purpose, nightmares, physical pain, and other symptoms.
If you think you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, there are resources available, including the multiple Vet Centers throughout the country.
Pierce says if someone you know and love is suffering from PTSD, it is important to show them support.
“If they’re willing to share, listen. Try to be there. We can’t fix it as spouses or family members. No matter how hard we try, we’re not able to fix that. Link up with a local Vet Center if they’re willing to go,” said Pierce.
As far as awareness is concerned, the Vet Center’s goal is to remove the stigma surrounding PTSD.
“Some think it’s a sign of weakness, but wanting to talk about an experience is not weakness. It’s developing and learning from that experience to be able to move on and live a normal life,” said Michael Novotney, veterans outreach program specialist with the Wheeling Vet Center.
If you are a veteran and want to speak to someone about the mental health resources available to you, call 1-877-WAR-VETS.
If you need immediate help, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.