Veterans receive help for P.T.S.D. - - The News for South Mississippi

Veterans receive help for P.T.S.D.

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Six years after Jimmy Dye left Iraq, he still struggles with the images and sounds of war. The Hattiesburg native served with the Mississippi National Guard 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team. Dye says it's hard to describe combat to those that have never experienced and death given and taken away in a matter of seconds.

"You can have some of the greatest times of your life and the worst times of your life all within a matter of moments, and it's a very conflicting place for anyone."

Dye says after he returned from Iraq he was angry and depressed, as he tried to keep his memories suppressed. Eventually, Dye realized he couldn't treat the problem on his own, so he sought help at the Jackson V. A.'s Trauma Recovery Program.

"I was always at conflict with myself. The person that come back from the war and the person that was before the war, and I was trying to get those two souls to reconcile."

Dr. Judith Lyons, team leader of the Trauma Recovery Program, says P.T.S.D. is a serious, treatable injury.

P.T.S.D. is sometimes compounded with the misuse of prescription medication and alcohol, which can lead to suicide or suicidal thoughts.

An according to new numbers released from the Pentagon just last month, 154 active-duty troops took their own lives during the first 155 days of the year.

The Army had the most suicides with 76. Those numbers do not include veterans who returned to civilian life after Iraq and Afghanistan or National Guard and Reserve members. 

Lyons says one of the first steps is helping a veteran feel safe and comfortable talking about their issues because the natural urge is silence.

"They may be a little more depressed, a little more anxious initially, but that's a hump in the early phases of therapy that if they can push through that they will see a lot of benefit."

Lyons says even those operating drones, away from a traditional combat zone are suffering from P.T.S.D.

She believes oftentimes P.T.S.D. sufferers avoid public places where they feel threatened. Sometimes leaving family members feeling rejected.

"Family and friends may want to talk about it at first; What was it like? What did you do? Tell me all about it. And they're just not ready. They need time to settle down and so they push everybody away, and then by the time they're ready to talk about it, everybody else has learned to kind of stay away and not ask about that or even discouraged talking about that if the subject comes up," explains Lyons.

The Jackson V. A. has more than 1,900 P.T.S.D. patients and was one of the first facilities in the country to offer P.T.S.D. treatment. They are adding more than two dozen additional mental health employees to handle the rising load. The Jackson V. A. has four programs to help P.T.S.D. patients, from residential to outpatient treatments.

Dye says he lives with the traumatic experience each day, but it doesn't control his life.

"The doctors up here helped me put those memories in a box for me, and I can take them out and when they come up I think about them. I don't avoid them. I think about them. I think about how they've affected me and I'm able to go on with my day now."

Troops have suffered from P.T.S.D. in every war and conflict our country has faced. Yet, many who have served are still reluctant to get help.

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