The Military Veterans Reconnecting to the Community group hosted a workshop on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) at MCC on April 3. The workshop was overseen by MCC counselor Meredith Smith and was presented by Annette Lavelle, who was part of the military operation in Iraq from 2003-2004 and is currently a readjustment specialist at the Veteran Center in Phoenix.
Lavelle explained that PTSD is a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation.”
The symptoms of PTSD usually appear three months after the particular situation occurs and can happen in three steps.
The victim will relate back to when the event occurred, avoid contact with others close to them, and remain in a prolonged state of fear.
The disorder will be experienced by an estimated 7.8 percent Americans during their lifetime, with women being 10.4 percent more likely to experience it than men.
People who suffer from anger, depression, substance abuse, relationship problems or dramatic experiences can also experience PTSD.
However, it’s most common among soldiers, who are returning from long tours of duty.
The current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in many soldiers getting PTSD.
“War changes people, some people for the good, some for the bad,” Lavelle said.
When soldiers do eventually return home, this is when PTSD usually occurs. There’s the culture shock of returning home to love ones and returning to their lives that they once had before they went off to war.
“When you get back from combat, there’s a huge readjustment period. Sometimes soldiers don’t go through the readjustment period completely,” Lavelle said.
However, PTSD can be treated and can eventually return people back to normalcy. Treatments don’t include medication, but do include counseling to teach the victim and their families to deal with the feelings and the memories that they have on a daily basis.
The Veteran Center in Phoenix, as well as centers in Mesa, Prescott, and Tucson, can provide this service and many others to those who suffer from PTSD.