Getting Help

Posttraumatic Stress, labeled a disorder or otherwise, affects West Virginians at an astonishingly high rate. So many Mountain State residents have served their country as members of the armed forces that our state routinely ranks at the top among states with high percentages of military veterans.

In 2010, there were 170,178 veterans living in the state. That is nearly ten percent of the population. According to findings presented to the National Association of Social Workers, up to half of those folks suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder or depression.

Many of those suffering have not sought any treatment, either through a misunderstanding of the availability of resources or because they believe there is a stigma attached to seeking help.

“Sucking it up just doesn’t work,” said psychologist Joseph Scotti. What does work is talking to professionals, such as those available at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.

Scotti described many vets as living like they have one hand always keeping the lid down on a garbage can of unresolved issues. In fact, he said many vets are at an elevated risk for suicides, and that because so many vets, of all ages, have decided against seeking treatment, there is now an increase in the number of elderly men and women suffering from mental health issues, in addition to those who have been more recently deployed.

The process of successfully working through those issues is not an easy one, but far preferable to the panic and anger (among other symptoms) that can accompany PTSD and other post-deployment concerns.

West Virginia veterans and their family members can seek help at several locations, including the Vet Center Outstation at 2311 Ohio Ave., Suite D, Parkersburg, WV; 304-485-1599 or (877) 927-8387. The National Veterans Crisis Hotline is also available at (800) 273-8255; or veteranscrisisline.net.

Any veteran struggling with the effects of having sacrificed so much for our country should take advantage of those resources as quickly as possible.