Coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in our Military Community

Pierce College has resources to help support our Veterans

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Coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in our Military Community

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The Anxiety and Depression Association of America describes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as “a serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening events. Research has recently shown that PTSD among military personnel may be a physical brain injury, specifically of damaged tissue, caused by blasts during combat.”  Our military Veterans have been effected, especially, through combat.

Nightmares, loud or sudden noises startle you easily, and recurring thoughts of a serious event or accident can all be symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress. Often, our Veterans have experienced and been exposed to tragic event which can lead to anxiety, isolation and depression. This impacts their relationships with those closest to them. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America said, “Most people who experience such events recover from them, but people with PTSD continue to be severely depressed and anxious for months or even years following the event.”

Living with Post-Traumatic Stress is life-altering, but there are immediate ways to cope.  Make the Connection said, “In addition to getting treatment, you can adjust your lifestyle to help relieve PTSD symptoms. For example, talking with other Veterans who have experienced trauma can help you connect with and trust others; exercising can help reduce physical tension; and volunteering can help you reconnect with your community. You also can let your friends and family know when certain places or activities make you uncomfortable.”

While the college does not provide treatment, Pierce College offers a support system for the Military Community. Pierce College’s interim Counselor Elizabeth Scott said, “I hope veterans will reach out to the Vet Center on campus, to the Counselor, to the ADS office if appropriate and let someone know if they are struggling or just need to connect.”

There are also organizations that support and facilitate a separate veterans’ community around different types of events. These examples include veterans motorcycle club, veterans fishing groups, veterans running groups as well as horseback riding. Seeking out and connecting with other veterans or trauma survivors can provide mutual understanding and eventually recovery.

Scott includes, “There are numerous resources in the community. One in Lakewood is Rally Pt. 6 which is a “one stop shopping” for connecting to veterans’ resources in the community. In addition to the VA Hospital, there are drop in Vet Centers in Lakewood and Federal Way where veterans can get free, confidential counseling services. Also, there are organizations that offer free counseling services to veterans in the community (one of those is listed on the Counseling webpage).”  

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder changes a person’s life. When a traumatic event has impacted how a person thinks or copes to the people and relationships, it can seem like an uphill battle to seek help; but, Make a Connection said, “In just a few months, these treatments can produce positive and meaningful changes in your symptoms and quality of life. They can help you understand and change how you think about your trauma and how you react to stressful memories. You may need to work with your doctor or counselor and try different types of treatment before finding the one that’s best for dealing with your PTSD symptoms.”

There is a community that cares and wants to help Veterans with support and treatment.