Azimuth – June 2012

To my fellow veterans and friends of veterans:

The new issue of the “Azimuth” newsletter is available for download. It is produced by the Veteran Volunteer Program and The Homeless Services Network of Central Florida. It is intended to help veterans with housing, utility, educational or employment challenges. It includes real clients with real requests.

Not included in this issue is a true story that I would like to share. I received a request from a friend a couple weeks ago. She told me that her husband’s brother had been in an incident and asked if I could help her find resources for her brother-in-law (We’ll call him Steve). So I looked into the matter. Steve lives in another state with his wife and 24-year-old daughter. Steve’s friends and neighbors were quoted as saying “Steve was a quiet, nurturing, caring husband and father.” Steve served in the Marine Corps in the early 80’s as a sniper. He had done a tour in Beirut and Lebanon. From 1985 to now he had battled minor symptoms of PTSD, but was “toughing it out”. After all, he was a tough Marine.

Two weeks ago, Steve was doing minor repairs to his house, lost his footing and hit his head. Steve was unconscious when the paramedics got to him. He was transported to a local hospital where a doctor examined him and said he would be fine and discharged him. At about 6:30 a.m. the next morning, Steve woke up in the middle of the night, grabbed a 3-pound exercise weight and beat his wife and daughter nearly to death. Then he began beating himself with the weight. Six days and three brain surgeries later, Steve came out of his coma and asked 2 questions. “Why am I in a hospital?” and “Why is my wife not next to my hospital bed?” Steve has no memory of the brutal night. Sherriff’s Investigators are still trying to figure out why Steve did what he did. The latest reports I got, Steve, is awake and using written words due to a breathing tube. Steve’s wife is still in critical condition and in a coma and has had three brain surgeries. Steve’s daughter is in stable condition and may be released from the hospital soon. Steve will most likely be charged soon with 2-counts of attempted murder.

I am in no way an expert in PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries). The reason I told this story is because I want all of my fellow veterans to understand the importance of speaking to someone if you feel that you may have PTSD. I also want you to understand that it doesn’t matter how tough you think you are, all it takes is one small accident to cause the PTSD to change your life.

PTSD can be caused by any frightening or traumatic event, but some of the most common triggers of PTSD include experiencing any of the following:

  • Car accidents or plane crashes
  • Natural disasters
  • Rape
  • Sexual or physical abuse
  • Violence, or witnessing violence
  • War.

Although most people think about flashbacks when they think of PTSD, the disorder is actually identified by three specific groups of PTSD symptoms:

  • Re-experiencing the event
  • Avoidance
  • Increased arousal.

Symptoms of re-experiencing the event include:

  • Flashbacks or feelings of reliving the event
  • Intense distress when reminded of the event
  • Nightmares
  • Physical responses to memories of the event, such as sweating or a pounding heart
  • Unwanted and upsetting memories of the event.

Symptoms of avoidance include:

  • Avoiding thoughts, places and people that remind you of the trauma
  • Feeling detached and withdrawn from others
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
  • Loss of memories associated with the event
  • Sense of a limited future.

Symptoms of increased arousal include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Hyper-vigilance, or a state of being constantly on alert for danger
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and anger.

If you feel you may have symptoms of PTSD, you have options.

  • VA’s Emotional Crisis Hotline
    For all Veterans
    1-800-273-8255 (Press 1 for Veterans)
    www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
  • The Vet Center (Orlando)
    5575 S. Semoran Blvd. #30
    Orlando, FL 32822
    Phone: 407-857-2800 Or 877-927-8387

    • For Veterans Who Have Been In Theater Of War, Honorable Discharged, Serves Veterans and Families Affected By PTSD
    • “Managing the Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety” clinic
      Every Tuesday Afternoon (1pm – 2:30pm)
      First Session:  July 10, 2012
      Call Barry Harnick, LCSW (407) 857-2800
    • “Work Related Self Image Group”
      Every Wednesday (2pm – 3:30pm)
      First Session: January 18, 2012
      Call Barry Harnick (407) 857-2800
  • UCF Anxiety Disorders Clinic
    • For OIF/OEF Veterans
    • This is a state-of-the-art clinic that uses sights, sounds, and smells to create exposure therapy. Client will also participate in one-on-one therapy and group therapies.
    • For more information, please contact:
      Dr. Neer
      Anxiety Disorders Clinic (http://ucfptsd.org)
      UCF Psychology Building
      4000 Central Florida Blvd.
      Orlando, FL 32816
      (407) 823-1668
  • The Camaraderie Foundation
    • For OIF/OEF Veterans and families
    • If you qualify, the Camaraderie Foundation will pay 75% of the cost for a non-VA counselor for upto 12 sessions.
    • 407-841-0071
    • www.camaraderiefoundation.com

Resources: http://www.ptsdfacts.net/overview/symptoms-checklist/

 

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