Trauma can haunt us, no matter how much time passes from the time of the trauma. For many Veterans, that struggle comes from experiences during their military service and can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Ann Hutcheson, Alaska VA psychologist, says PTSD can appear in many forms, like intrusive memories, emotional numbing and avoidance.
There are different options for treatment, like prolonged exposure therapy, which helps you gradually approach those memories, feelings and situations you have avoided since the trauma.
“Symptoms can get better, especially with solid treatment, and some people shouldn’t be out there struggling alone,” Hutcheson said.
Navy Veteran Eddie Burke started experiencing PTSD soon after he left the service. Three years ago, he attempted suicide. Eventually, though, he reached out to VA for help.
“Something wasn’t right with me, and so I sought VA and the rest is history,” Burke said. “You know, VA saved my life.”
Since then, Burke has worked hard to better his mental health by using tools to help him handle his PTSD. Whether it was breathing exercises or going over his thought process, Burke tries to put himself in a better state of mind. He reminds himself that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Burke feels much of his support comes from his health team at Alaska VA. He can sit down with his social worker over a cup of coffee or talk with his psychologist. That makes him feel that he has a lot of people helping him get him to where he needs to be.
“Catch these things early… save some lives.”
Burke recognized the importance of having supportive people and says he wished more Veterans reached out for help with their PTSD.
“If you can catch these things early, where a guy’s not screwing himself into that dark place, then it really has an effect, because if we can keep them from going there, then we may save some lives,” he said.
Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or text 838255 if you or a Veteran you know is in crisis.