Fort Campbell works to address post-traumatic stress disorder, common ailment of Afghanistan-Iraq veterans

Research shows almost 14 percent of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afganistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and as an estimated 2 million veterans are coming home, Fort Campbell has quickly acted by reaching out to the medical community in Kentucky to help address the challenges of PTSD.

Top behavioral health and brain injury research experts came to Ft. Campbell on Tuesday to teach civilian behavioral health professionals about the military's current PTSD and brain injury research and treatments, reports Kristin Hall of The Associated Press.

PTSD can be one of war's ugly side effect, and it is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event in which ther's potential for grave physical harm, such as "violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, and military combat," says the National Institute of Mental Health. Not properly treating PTSD symptoms can lead to alcohol or drug use, spouse or child abuse, depression or suicide

The clinics at Ft. Campbell will focus on PTSD and brain trauma treatment and will each have 13 mental health professionals to offer more personalized, focused care, which is expected to reduce "cases of psychiatric problems, spouse or child abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, suicides and drug use," like the pilot program at Fort Carson in Colorado, reports Adam Ghassemi of News Channel 5.

Some Kentucky veterans, like Mike Jeffrey who spoke about his physical and mental battles after his two tours in Iraq at a Veteran's Recognition Program, are addressing other problems associated with PTSD, which are that many veterans won't talk about it, and they both families and veterans lack awareness about treatment options. Jeffrey talked about the struggles he had when returning home and his "baby steps" toward normalcy.

“I woke up and had kicked down my apartment doors overnight without knowing it,” he said. “It was hell just living with myself,” reported Tracy Harris of The News Democrat. Jeffrey started counseling for his PTSD and is now using a service dog trained specifically for veterans, Seal Team.

“Seal Team is his security blanket,” said Jeffrey's wife, Shelly, who contacted four service dog organizations before finding K-9 trainer Mike Halley, a Vietnam veteran living in Florida, reports Harris. In addition to suggesting use of a service dog, Jeffrey said veterans shouldn't bury their own experience with PTSD, which many are reluctant to talk about.

“We all grew up in the suck-it-up-and-drive Army,” he said. “But you can only suck it up for so long,” said Jeffrey.

Efforts like the ones made by Ft. Campbell and Mike Jeffrey represent progress in treatment of mental health issues. And while these efforts alone won't address the problem, work within local communities can make a world of difference for struggling veterans.

Retired Maj. Gen. Mark Graham said "there is no quick way to eliminate the stigma often attached to seeking out mental health care, but the key is partnerships with the communities," writes Hall.

The story of returning veteran's is a big one that may be hard to cover, so click here for journalism tips. Click here to learn more about PTSD programs in Kentucky, or click the link below to watch news coverage about the behavioral health clinics in Ft. Campbell.

Ft. Campbell Opens Behavioral Health Clinics To Fight PTSD - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports
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