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First Day at Peer Navigator-PTSD

December 6, 2012

As I’ve said in previous blogs, I am volunteering with the County of Orange California.  My job title is Peer Navigator for a Grant program to help needy veterans.  I was struck, though, by one of the Social Workers that I will be working closely with.

As part of my orientation I was spending time with each member of the team so that I could get a better feel for the job and to have some of my questions answered, regarding this new position.  The question I asked was, “What is the breakdown between past Veterans from the earlier wars like Vietnam versus those of the more recent wars like Afghanistan and Iraq?”  I was expecting to hear that the vast majority of those I would be seeing were the more current one.  However, the Social Worker said, “We don’t have very many people from these newer Wars yet.  Most are still from Vietnam.”  She went on to tell me that many of those who were coming into the system served in Vietnam and had never, that’s right, never sought help before.  Vietnam was fought 40 years ago and it has take these people this long to admit that they have a PTSD problem.

This is frightening because around 2 million men and women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. I’ve stated many times, we can guesstimate that 20%-30%  will suffer this PTSD fate.  This, plus the families of these PTSD sufferers will be thousand and thousands of people who will be stuffing their feelings and trying to cope in silence when there are options available to them and the only thing keeping them from receiving help will be their own pride and misguided belief that they will somehow get better.

This is a major problem and one that everyone needs to take a part in trying to help.  If you truly believe in and want to support the troops, then the best thing you can do is spread the word to those in your social network regarding this issue.  You need to reach out to returning veterans and encourage them to seek help even if they haven’t acknowledged their own need yet. We need less tweets and posts about what you ate for breakfast and more support for serious causes.