Walk into American Legion Post 38 and you’ll find war relics. Preserved so people won’t lose sight of the sacrifices made on their behalf.
But a new generation of soldiers are keeping their war memories bottled up inside them. Post traumatic stress disorder.
“We see some of these younger vets that come in that have problems. The one I spoke with yesterday, he was kicked out of the rescue mission; they wouldn’t take him into Salvation Army because he was having confrontations with people,” says Kevin Boyd, commander of American Legion Post 38.
“Soldiers that have been deployed five, six, ten times - continuing to be exposed and exposed to trauma and not having ability to heal and rest. That creates a tremendous amount of a toll on the soldier’s brain. Those soldiers are at very high risk for PTSD,” says Dr. Omar Rieche, director of the Behavioral Health Center with Lee Memorial Health System.
There has always been a mental cost to war. But it’s more frequent today. Of the estimated 2.6 million service members involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s believed a quarter of them have post traumatic stress. It’s leading to better methods of treatment.
“Treatments of the past are called cognitive behavioral type treatments, and it was scary to the individual because they have to re-experience and they don’t want to go there.
The new treatments are focused on how to help the person in the here and now - dialect behavioral therapy, yoga, acupuncture, EMDR. They are short, ten-twelve sessions. Soldiers are not intimidated by the idea that they have to re-experience. It’s helping that person learn how become relaxed and calm and disconnect those ideas, negative thoughts and sensations from the memory,” says Dr. Rieche.
Findings show those who get counseling soon after a traumatic event, may be better off later.
“We can even start to do some therapies that may prevent the lane of the memories; that is very, very traumatic memory- that can cause PTSD,” says Dr. Rieche.
Commander Boyd believes these suffering soldiers deserve some peace.“Protected the very air we breathe and they made sacrifices doing unprecedented tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. And these kids need help,” says Boyd.