GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Suicides are increasing among American Troops. Statistics show there is now an average of nearly one a day. According to the Pentagon, In 2012 more active duty troops were lost to suicide than to combat in Afghanistan.
Studies show Post-tramitic stress to be one of the reasons the suicide rate is going up among U.S. Troops. Some local veterans say they think it is a main factor. So now they are reaching out to help those who suffer from PTSD before it is too late.
Bob Hillerby was a combat photographer in the Vietnam War. Doc Blevins was an Airborne Combat Medic in Iraq and Afghanistan.They may have fought in two different wars, but they are both fighting the same battle, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"Once you have been in combat the war never ends," Hillerby said.
They say adjusting to civilian life is an ongoing fight. Hillerby and Blevins say they have vivid nightmares and flashbacks and sometimes feel withdrawn.
"I couldn't get close even to my own family," Hillerby said.
"With me it was mostly just hyper-vigilance. Didn't like to go to Walmart. Too many people to watch because I didn't have my guys with me," Blevins said.
Counselor Rhonda Schroeder, with TMC Behavioral Health Center, says in the past 15 years she has seen a dramatic increase in the disorder. So has Hillarby. That is why he helped start a support group for people who suffer from PTSD, and it is not just for veterans. Schroeder says anyone who has ever witnessed a traumatizing event, even on TV, can suffer from PTSD.
"Traumatic events can range from anything during wartime to having a car accident, to witnessing a building blow up, to witnessing somebody murdered," Schroeder said.
She says if it is not treated the disorder can be deadly.
"When you don't get any treatment and you become more and more depressed, more withdrawn, more anxious then you get tired of living that way and yes, it's going to lead to suicide," Schroeder said.
Hillerby and Blevins say the traumatic memories will never go away.
"Death has a smell. The battle field has a smell, and those things never leave you," Hillerby said.
However, they are standing up to PTSD by admitting they have it., getting help and helping others who suffer from the disorder.
"Stay away from the drugs and alcohol and go through it. And get with us. Get with another veteran because we understand," Blevins said.
Hillerby says the support group is confidential and free. He says meetings are every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 6 to 7 p.m. Hillerby says the meetings are held at 213 Travis Street in Sherman, Texas across from Chase Bank.
For more information about PTSD you can also visit the National Center for PTSD at http://www.ptsd.va.gov/
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