Veteran speaks out about getting help for PTSD
Author: Abigail Curran
Published: 6:13 PM EDT June 27, 2019
Updated: 6:31 PM EDT June 27, 2019
JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Imagine being afraid to fall asleep. Nights filled with terror, waking up in a sweat. Imagine your days tormented by flashbacks. These are some of the symptoms of PTSD.
Today is National PTSD Awareness Day. According to a survey by the Wounded Warrior project, 78 percent of the warriors they serve live with symptoms of PTSD.
Leonardo Yui is a Navy veteran who lives with PTSD. When asked what the hardest part about serving in the armed forces was, he said, “nothing. It’s what happens after, once you’re done. That’s when you actually have to face the biggest problems and those battle that not a lot of people can see or handle.”
Yui was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. He had a full-blown panic attack in 2009. “I didn’t know how to react or how to handle it,” he said. “So I knew there was something going on but I didn’t want to be labeled… You’re afraid of seeking help. Because of what’s going to happen after.”
But his PTSD wasn’t just hurting him.
“PTSD affects everyone,” he said. “It affected my family. It affected my wife, my relationship with my wife. It affected my kids because I completely disconnected from them. It was very hard. They were afraid of me.”
He struggled with a decision. To stick it out, or to leave. He was medically discharged after 14 years of service.
“I saw no hope,” he said. “It just completely destroys your life.”
It wasn’t until he was in the hospital a couple of years later that he heard of the Wounded Warrior Project.
“I did project Odyssey for couples with my spouse and got us reconnected, Yui said. “We haven’t been together by ourselves in many years. Probably 6, 7 years. And from that point on I kept getting involved with it because I see it as therapy. That’s really how I see it. Is all the events that they do with veterans and getting the family involved is therapeutic.”
He encourages others to seek help.
“For one thing you have to put your ego aside,” Yui said. ” You have to put your guard down. put your ego aside, and just know you’re not alone.”
Wounded Warrior Project is a non-profit for veterans. They break down what PTSD is and what treatment options are available:
How do you get PTSD?
PTSD can occur after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. For veterans, this can stem from combat, training, or military sexual trauma.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are four types of symptoms:
- Re-experiencing: flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts
- Avoidance: avoiding thoughts, feelings, places, activities, or objects that remind you of the traumatic event
- Arousal and reactivity: being easily startled, feeling tense, having trouble sleeping
- Cognition and mood: experiencing negative thoughts, feelings of guilt or blame, or loss of interest in hobbies
When these symptoms last for a month, it is considered PTSD.
What treatment options exist for PTSD?
WWP directs every hour, dollar, and action to helping warriors achieve their highest ambition. Some of its programs focus directly on treating PTSD and creating coping skills for wounded veterans of today’s generation. Individuals respond differently to trauma. They also respond differently to treatment. Here are a few of our mental health programs:
- Project Odyssey®: WWP mental health workshops bring veterans together to take on outdoor challenges together. During the multi-day events, we help veterans grow internally while also expanding external support structures.
- WWP Talk: WWP staff members are available for weekly calls to warriors, family members, and caregivers to provide not only a helpful ear, but also encouragement. WWP works with the individual to set goals and create a plan to exceed those targets.
- Warrior Care Network®: WWP’s Warrior Care Network provides world-class clinical mental health care. Warrior Care Network is a partnership between WWP and four top academic medical centers. The PTSD treatment provides more than 70 hours of clinical care in 2- to 3-week programs. Warrior Care Network includes cognitive therapy, prolonged exposure, virtual reality, mindfulness, and more.
In addition to the above programs available through WWP, there are a number of options to address PTSD. VA provides free options for eligible veterans, including therapy. There are a number of ways to find a suitable veterans mental health therapist.
Click here to learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project.
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