As I’ve said before, post-traumatic stress disorder may very well be the No. 1 issue affecting the Killeen-Fort Hood area.
One of the best ways to cope with PTSD is to talk about it. And I’ve heard that from a number of veterans who have the mental condition.
A week before Christmas I went to a meeting in Killeen for people who have PTSD. It’s a peer group meeting, designed for people with PTSD to talk with others who have PTSD.
Typically closed to outsiders, the group was OK with my coming to the weekly meeting, which on this occasion was a “pot luck” night, so it was little more jovial than usual.
During the regular meetings, the attendees sit in chairs arranged in a circle and talk about how PTSD affects their lives.
Most importantly, they learn from each other. For example, one veteran might say: “I used to have trouble sleeping, and I dealt with it this way.”
Another veteran dealing with the same issue can learn from that, perhaps even be inspired that hope and healing are possible.
The proof that the program works can be found in the testimonials from the veterans in the program. Below is an excerpt of one such testimonial written in 2010 by a sergeant major:
“I have served in the Army for 26 years. I have been to combat twice in Iraq. I have been dealing with PTSD ever since 1984, and have been in denial ever since. … However, I have never been able to tell my wife. …. During the training, I realized that I had many of the symptoms we had discussed in training. That is when I realized that I needed to tell my wife that I have PTSD. However, I never knew how to tell her. I really did not know how she would respond, or if she would see me as a monster. … I was so nervous and afraid to tell my wife, but when I finally got the courage to start talking, my wife was very understanding and compassionate. The most shocking thing was that my wife thanked me for sharing my feelings with her.”
For more information on the PTSD peer support group, go to www.bringeveryoneinthezone.org or call Maureen Jouett at 254-681-9112.