From cross-country bikes to cross-country walks with the American flag, veterans across the country are going to great lengths to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some veterans have taken to sharing their accounts of living with PTSD. In the wake of PTSD Awareness Day on June 27, here are their stories and how they turned their lives around.
After returning from Iraq, Staff Sergeant Michelle Fisher was pulled over while she was driving one night. She passed all the field sobriety tests, but failed the breathalyzer test, blowing a 0.182. The police officer initially thought his breathalyzer was broken, due to her shockingly high level of motor control function. She knew she needed help after that.
Treatment helped her confront her drinking problem, a side effect of the PTSD. Fisher began to overcome the little things, like sitting next to a stranger and leaving the house. She also strengthened the bond with her partner in the process. Read more.
Staff Sergeant Arthur Jefferson didn’t initially think he had PTSD, believing it only affected veterans “actually in the war,” like Vietnam, World War I, and World War II. He first noticed the night sweats that prevented him from falling back asleep. Jefferson also distanced himself from people, avoided going to crowded places, and felt uncomfortable around non-military people and places.
After receiving treatment, Jefferson improved his relationship with his family and was able to venture outside of his comfort zone. He became in control of his PTSD and advises others to do the same. Read more.
Sergeant Penny Anderson became a different person after returning from deployment. She evolved from a happy and kind person to one who was angry, mean and isolative. She felt like a burden to her family and avoided certain people and places that triggered her trauma.
Plagued with suicidal thoughts, Anderson knew she had to make a change. Treatment helped her return to her happy self. She was able to regain her life back and truly live life to the fullest after receiving help. Read more.
On May 19, 2010, Specialist Rob Tucker woke up at four in the morning to the sound of an AK-47 firing only 200 yards from where he slept. Now, hearing a small bump at night is enough to startle him, and he sleeps with a gun by his head.
Tucker began receiving treatment for his PTSD and urges others to do the same. “If you don’t want to go, nobody can force you… But if you don’t go, you’re gonna be struggling like this for the rest of your life. If you’re struggling, ask for help. It’s there, and it’s free.” Read more.
If these stories sound familiar and you or someone you may know has been exposed to a life-threatening event or severe trauma, you may have PTSD. Although it affects everyone differently, common symptoms include trouble sleeping, recurring nightmares or memories of the trauma, anger or irritability, difficulty leaving the house, and more.
PTSD is not something you have to live with. There are a variety of treatment options and professionals who will work with you to determine the best fit. If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, don’t be afraid to get help.
The Purple Heart Foundation has been committed to offering assistance to those men and women who have served our country and struggle with PTSD. They offer an array of resources on the website and a number of resources. It is with the generous support of our supporters that we are able to continue offering this support to our nation’s heroes. To find out how you can get involved supporting our Veterans, go to www.purpleheartfoundation.org for more information.