Veterans with PTSD struggle during holiday that celebrates their sacrifices

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INDIANAPOLIS – For most of us, the Fourth of July is about fun and fireworks.

However, for many veterans dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), intense anxiety comes along with the celebration. It’s something many veterans hope more people will be aware of.

“I never thought I would make it out of my house alive,” said Silouan Green who served his country as a Marine.

His experience left him scared and scarred.

“And that takes you back to places you don’t you don’t want to be,” he said.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder happens when people experience something terrible, and they can’t process what they went through. It’s estimated nearly 10 percent of the population deals with it.

For those dealing with PTSD, the loud blasts and flashing lights over the holiday can bring about panic attacks and feelings of anxiety.

“It can be a sight, sound or smell. It is usually the things that people are not expecting,” said Dr. Steven Herman, a psychologist at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center who takes care of PTSD patients.

The doctor says many times veterans will try to ignore the celebrations.

“Strategies that other veterans have used in the past have been to have a television playing loudly if they know that their neighbors will be shooting off fireworks. Scented candles or other things that will help mask the smell of fireworks,” said Herman.

The doctor suggests that those suffering from PTSD find strategies to enable them to participate in the celebrations to the extent with which they feel comfortable.

Green asks that you give extra attention to veterans this holiday.

“Look out for each other. If you see a vet, stand next to them, say ‘hi’ to them. Don’t let them stand alone. PTSD dwells in loneliness and darkness,” said Green, who runs the program Ladder UPP that helps people dealing with PTSD. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has used the program in the past.

Veterans struggling with PTSD can always call the National VA Crisis hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Related links:

Suicide prevention lifeline

National Center for PTSD

Vet to Vet Indiana – support group for PTSD

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