JaNelle Casson is on a mission to spread awareness that post-traumatic stress disorder affects more than just service members. By creating a culture of acceptance and maintaining open lines of communication, she hopes the stigma associated with seeking help will disappear.
Military spouse, mother of three and event organizer, Casson led Take the Step, a PTSD awareness walk, Saturday afternoon at the Rotary Club Children’s Park in Killeen.
Participants walked a half-mile awareness walk, followed by a 3-kilometer Run for a Reason.
The goal of the walk was to spread awareness of the condition and how it also affects children, Casson said.
“PTSD doesn’t just affect the service members coming home from war,” she said. “It also affects the families they come home to.”
Casson explained that Take the Step is an initiative of the Department of Veterans Affairs that typically runs in June, and Saturday’s walk acted as a grass-roots preview of the official local launch next year.
Casson’s husband, Staff Sgt. Justin Casson, suffers from PTSD, and she considers him and her children to be “PTSD heroes.”
“When my kids see me acting out, I don’t want them to think they can act the same way, which is why we encourage communication and why we explain to our kids why I’m acting the way I am,” Justin Casson said.
“My oldest has seen four deployments, my middle one has seen three and our youngest one has seen two, so they and my wife are just as affected by PTSD as I am. Like I tell my soldiers, if you don’t tell someone you are hurting, no one can help you, and talking about it really helps you heal.”
Team Red, White and Blue was on-site to provide information for veterans about services to help them transition to civilian life.
“We want to give them back the sense of camaraderie they are missing from the military,” said chapter captain John Stasulli.
For more information, go to teamrwb.org.