Fighting on the Homefront: PTSD Awareness Day

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects around eight percent of people in the United States at some point in their lives, that's according to the National Center for PTSD.

PTSD develops when you go through a traumatic event and are not able to move past what happened. Although anyone can be diagnosed with PTSD, veterans are at a heightened risk.

David Brock spent almost three years in Afghanistan as a Green Beret.

"My first deployment was six months in '09, my second deployment, I got there on Independence Day 2010, came back April 2011, then deployed again January 2012," said David."

Medically retired from the Army due to a back injury, it wasn't until he started getting treatment that his wife and doctors realized David's pain wasn't just physical.

"I actually fought the thought of having PTSD for several months," said David.

Now that he's accepted it, David is using his experiences to help others, by writing a book.

"I'm specifically targeting other people like me, who don't believe PTSD exists, in order to let them know once you admit it, it's not a weakness, it's a strength," said David. "It's a battle scar, it's made you stronger. It doesn't define who you are."

By documenting his time overseas to coming home and trying to navigate a normal life, for David, writing is a form of treatment.

"There are several treatment options available to individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," said Jenna Stewart-Vaughn, trauma recovery specialist at the Lakeview Center. "One of the gold standards is EMDR, which is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It involves keeping one foot in the present, and one foot in the past in the memory as we work through it."

Jenna said it's not just treatment that varies, symptoms of PTSD also differ from person to person.

"Nightmares, difficulty with their emotions, feeling like they're not sure where their emotions come from or they're very sensitive to changes where their emotions may feel very extreme and very overwhelming," said Jenna.

Extreme responses to small issues and any out-of-the-norm reactions could be cause for concern. If you see the signs, Jenna said don't be ashamed, reach out and get help.

"This does happen to a lot of individuals, but it can be healed," said Jenna. "There is a possibility for hope and recovery."

On his path to recovery, David wants others to know help is always available.

"It's never cured; it's always going to be there," said David. "However, there are several things you can do to make it better along the way."

If you, a friend or family member is suffering from PTSD, or showing signs of battling with the disorder, don't hesitate to reach out. Whether it's the VA, the Vet Center, the Lakeview Center or another treatment facility, there are many treatment options across northwest Florida - some offered free of charge.

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