Tuesday, June 27 is National PTSD Awareness Day.PTSD is a mental health problem that can happen to anyone who has been exposed to dangerous or deadly events, including military combat.
Since 2009, the Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska has provided an At Ease program -- confidential, individualized counseling and support for active military, veterans and their loved ones to treat the effects of trauma, including PTSD. Working in collaboration with At Ease USA, last year LFS helped more than 1,334 active military members, veterans and their loved ones throughout the state of Nebraska, including many with PTSD.
Paul Greenwell, the LFS At Ease Clinical Supervisor and an Army National Guard Member, believes anyone struggling to cope with trauma can have PTSD.
“I think people need to know that PTSD and mental health issues in general are not signs of weakness,” Greenwell says. “What we’re discovering is that PTSD is the body’s way of dealing with extraordinary circumstances. We see this on a neurological level. We see this on a psychological level.”
According to Greenwell, those suffering from PTSD often struggle alone, turning away from society, friends and family, and often to drugs and/or alcohol to cope with feelings of depression, anxiety, flashbacks or nightmares.
Air Force veteran Kim Jones is a counselor in the LFS At Ease program. She says that family members can take the first step towards treatment by getting help themselves.
“Getting support for family members of a loved one with PTSD is crucially important,” Jones said. “It doesn’t just impact the veteran or the person with the trauma, it impacts the entire family.”
Both Jones and Greenwell want PTSD Awareness Day to serve as a reminder to be patient and provide support to anyone who may be suffering from PTSD, and they want those suffering from PTSD to realize that there is hope.
“On PTSD Awareness Day, I would like people to know is that recovery is possible,” Jones says. “We often hear about the negative effects, and rarely hear about successes. But the success stories are out there.”
“People recover. Marriages are saved. Families are kept together. Recovery is possible,” she said.
LFS helps those suffering from PTSD with confidential, individualized counseling services for veterans and their loved ones, regardless of the ability to pay.
For more information about At Ease or other Lutheran Family Services programs, please visit LFSNeb.org or call 402.292.9105.