Veterans combat post-traumatic stress disorder at UTD Center for Brain Health
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 18:03
While the war in Iraq officially ended in 2011, many U.S. soldiers are fighting a new battle here in the states. It goes by the name of post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to The National PTSD Foundation of America, one in four returning soldiers are diagnosed with PTSD, but less than 40 percent of them will seek help.
"I would say I was failing as a civilian when I first got out,” Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Mike Rials said.
Rials works as a veterans outreach coordinator at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas Dallas to help veterans recognize the symptoms of PTSD.
“I did struggle a lot with the arousal feeling of things like large crowds and not being able to be around them, always having to be near a door,” Iraq veteran Cedric Jones said. Jones works at the Center for Brain Health with Rials.
At the center, veterans help other veterans overcome PTSD by sharing their own experiences coping with the disorder.
"I had two of my buddies I served with that committed suicide, so it kind of pushed me to find out what's going on," Rials said.
It’s been 10 years since the invasion of Iraq, but suicide rates among veterans are rising. According to a recent report from the Department of Veteran Affairs, 22 veterans take their lives every day.
"What people don't understand [is] that when you are preparing to go to war in these particular kinds of positions, you can't sugar coat it, the job is to kill people," Vietnam veteran G. Reid Lyon said. Lyon is a Distinguished Research Scholar at the center.
About 30 veterans are currently being treated at the center through several kinds of therapies.
"What our program does, actually, it helps you to lessen those symptoms and fears and actually manage and control them. When you come into our program, you go through what's called a magnetic stimulation, RTMS. At that point you're calmed down and you go into a counseling session,” Jones said.
Many veterans feel there is a stigma to having PTSD.
"What veterans need to understand is that there are actually changes in brain when you go through a traumatic situation, particularly one as stark and as indelible as being in combat,” Lyon said.
After studying psychology and receiving treatment for his PTSD, Rials urges other veterans with PTSD to call him.
"[The Center] helps you to challenge your beliefs of what combat did, what war did, and how black and white it can be. And you really get to just reorganize your thoughts,” Rials said.Treatment for PTSD has been successful for many veterans.
"There is significant hope for veterans who have been in combat, who have seen terrible things. Veterans aren't trained to say things that might indicate weakness and so forth, but it's not a weakness. It's a real deal,” Lyon said.