With June 27 designated National PTSD Awareness Day, the El Paso VA Health Care System held a walk to raise awareness and increase education about Veterans suffering from PTSD.

“The purpose of this event was not only to raise awareness, but decrease stigma surrounding PTSD,” said Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator Jessica Moreno. “We want to educate everyone about how they can support Veterans and inform them of available VA services. Our hope is to encourage all who need help to seek it.”

In addition to the El Paso VA, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the El Paso Vet Center, the Veterans One-Stop Shop, and the office of U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar participated.

PTSD is a mental health problem that individuals can develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as close combat, a natural disaster, or sexual assault. During this kind of event, an individual does not usually have any control over what is happening and as a result feels very afraid.

Women and men trauma experience can differ

Going through trauma is not rare. About 6 of every 10 men and 5 of every 10 women experience at least one trauma in their lives. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury.

PTSD is now recognized as a treatable disorder, just like depression or anxiety. As with other mental disorders, a person may have to try more than one treatment to find what works best for them.

In recognition of the on-going pandemic, individuals who wished to participate and did not feel comfortable doing so had the option to walk virtually. All they had to do was register online, download a printable bib, and take a photo of themselves walking, biking, running, or swimming, and then post to social media, tagging the National Center for PTSD.

“People who get treatment improve their quality of life”

VA is the world’s leading research and educational center of excellence on PTSD and traumatic stress. The department’s National Center for PTSD strives to advance the clinical care and social welfare of America’s Veterans and others who have experienced trauma or suffer from PTSD.

This is done through research, education, and training in the science, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD and stress related disorders.

“Getting better means different things to different people, but people who get treatment improve their quality of life,” said Associate Chief of Staff Emilia Candelario. “For some, symptoms may continue even after treatment, but individuals will have learned skills to cope with them better. The most important message we would like to get across is that PTSD is treatable.”

The El Paso VA Health Care System serves Veterans in far Southwest Texas and Doña Ana County, New Mexico. The facility includes the main health care building located adjacent to William Beaumont Army Medical Center on Ft. Bliss, and several VA-staffed Community Based Outpatient Clinics.

By Ginette Bocanegra is a public affairs officer. Photo by Jessica Moreno, a clinical social worker. Both work for the El Paso VA Health Care System. 

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Published on Jul. 16, 2021

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  1. Frank Sterle Jr. July 18, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    Trauma from unchecked toxic abuse (a.k.a. Adverse Childhood Experiences) typically results in a helpless child’s brain improperly developing. If allowed to continue for a prolonged period, it can act as a starting point into a life in which the brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines. It has been described as a discomforting anticipation of ‘the other shoe dropping’ and simultaneously being scared of how badly you will deal with the upsetting event, which usually never transpires.

    The pain — unlike an openly visible physical disability or condition, such as paralysis, a missing limb or eye — is very formidable yet invisibly confined to inside one’s head, solitarily suffered. It can make every day an emotional/psychological ordeal, unless the mental turmoil is treated with some form of medicating, either prescribed or illicit. Any resultant addiction is likely due to his/her attempt at silencing the anguish of PTSD symptoms through substance abuse.

    “It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practicing medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.”
    —Childhood Disrupted, pg.228.

  2. Frank Sterle Jr. July 18, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    There’s a pathetic political callousness involved with this most serious health and human issue, with denying these people in great need what relatively little they and their worried loved-ones ask from government. There’s also a preconceived notion that drug addicts are but weak-willed and/or have somehow committed a moral crime. Even worse, I’ve found that (in this world) a large number of people, however precious their lives, can atrociously be considered disposable. Then those people may begin perceiving themselves as worthless and consume their substances more haphazardly.

    Although the cruel devaluation of them as human beings is basically based on their self-medicating, it still reminds me of the cruel external devaluation, albeit perhaps a subconscious one, of the daily civilian lives lost (“casualties”) in protractedly devastating war zones and sieges. They can eventually receive meagre column inches on the back page in the First World’s daily news. (Albeit, maybe to the newspaper owners/editors, “It’s just the news business, nothing personal”).

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