As we are preparing for the upcoming Warrior-Centric Healthcare Training session on July 9th, 2013 at the Nashville Public Library, Dr. Evelyn Lewis, Chief Medical Officer for the Steptoe Group, offers the following insights:
PTSD, sometimes undiagnosed, can carry an array of chronic, otherwise-invisible symptoms that flare momentarily or take root for a time: nervousness, hyper-emotionality, an inability to sleep, and an overreaction to seemingly humdrum, daily moments. These feelings are unleashed from deep in the memory, hardwired back to real, horrible events that occurred just once or many times during battle such as IED detonations, mortar bursts and gunfire. Visual or auditory reminders – or both – commonly set off such symptoms for veterans. Typically, those with PTSD are bothered more by:
*The fireworks that veer off slightly* Fireworks that are shot off in the middle of the night,* Those that are randomly set off days before or after the actual holiday
That conditioned response can set a PTSD sufferer on edge for hours, or trigger memories that lead to depression that will last well past the Independence Day and other holidays accompanied by fireworks.
1. On Memorial Day or 4th of July it may be best for many of our servicemen, women, and veterans wrestling with PTSD to head to quiet places.2. In situations where environmental stimuli are beyond the control of the PTSD suffer, don headphones and listen to soothing music.3. Encourage your family and friends to consider quieter, calmer ways to celebrate our country’s independence.
Keep in mind, an estimated 11to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and nearly a third of Vietnam veterans suffer symptoms of PTSD — a figure that means if you light off string of Black Cats at random intervals or shoot off bottle rockets in the middle of the night it can trigger in veterans the hyper-alertness and adrenaline rush of combat.
As we continue to honor veterans for their bravery and sacrifice, let us also show our appreciation by considering their needs as they transition from combat to home-life.
Warrior Centric Art work by David Walker, Photos: UMKC Contributors to this post Dr. Evelyn Lewis(Navy), Niketa Williams UPitt School of Medicine, Genma Holmes