Images from Afghanistan bring up trauma for veterans, here’s how to get help

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WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – The images from Afghanistan are jarring to look at. They can bring up many emotions from civilians, but for veterans, it’s more difficult to watch. 

Whether they fought in combat in Afghanistan, or in another war, the trauma of the Taliban’s take over is hurting them even here at home. 

There was an exodus from Vietnam that wasn’t well supported, so now it’s happening again and that’s very frustrating for not only the Afghan veterans, but for Vietnam veterans. It looks like they would have learned a lesson, and they didn’t.

John Looney, Director, Wheeling Vet Center

They put their lives on the line to defend a country that’s now being taken over, which can leave veterans feeling like their courage and sacrifice isn’t being honored. 

Even if a veteran didn’t have issues coming home, the turmoil in Afghanistan could bring back many emotions, especially seeing the people suffering. 

You worked with these people. You know these people and you want them to be safe. You want to be assured that they’re safe and that’s difficult to live with.

John Looney, Director, Wheeling Vet Center

Looney said in these times it’s important for veterans to come together and talk through their emotions. 

Friends help friends and that’s what veterans are are, very good friends and they can help each other out.

John Looney, Director, Wheeling Vet Center

If they can’t lean on their veteran brothers and sisters, Looney said that’s where family needs to step in. Be available for the veteran you love. Ask them if they’re ok and listen if they need to talk. 

You can’t expect to understand what they’re saying, but you can understand the emotions they’re having. You can grant them the permission to have those emotions and support them in expressing those emotions.

John Looney, Director, Wheeling Vet Center

Also let them know they’re not alone. 

“What they’re going through is normal. It’s not that it’s easy because it’s normal, but it’s very difficult.

John Looney, Director, Wheeling Vet Center

Looney advises veterans to not only seek help if they need it, but also limit their time watching videos from Afghanistan. He explained there’s a fine line between understanding what’s going on and “going down the rabbit hole”.

Veterans in need of support right now can call the Wheeling Vet Center at 304-232-0587 or the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 then press 1.

The Wheeling Vet Center is also working on putting together debriefing events where veterans who are struggling with the news out of Afghanistan can get together and just talk. 

As soon as 7News knows those dates we will share them with you.

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