Joe Stahlkuppe

Last week’s Veterans Voice dealt with Agent Orange, which really has more to do with Vietnam Veterans and Veterans who served in Southeast Asia. While quite serious in many ways, Agent Orange is not as universal as this week’s column subject—PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). As long as there have been traumas (like wars, physical attacks, etc.) stress (often quite delayed) has been an accompanying problem.

I am a proud lifetime member of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). As such, I have access to some of their very excellent materials. This column is a short rephrasing of a VVA pamphlet entitled “PTSD—What Every Veteran—and Every Veteran’s Family—Should Know.” This pamphlet and lots of others can be obtained from VVA—Chapter 416—Ron Becker. President—(205) 631-7903 or by contacting me at the North Jefferson News.

While on the subject of VVA, any Vietnam Veteran or Vietnam-Era Veteran can get a lifetime VVA membership for $50!!!

PTSD can occur due to “exposure to death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence.”

Signs of PTSD are:

  • Unwanted, upsetting memories
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Stress from exposure to reminders of trauma
  • Physical reactions after being exposed to such reminders
  • Avoiding trauma-related thoughts or feelings
  • Inability to remember all of the original trauma
  • Feeling overly negative about yourself or about the world
  • Blaming yourself in an exaggerated way for causing the trauma
  • Decreased interest in things/activities you once enjoyed
  • Feeling negative and not feeling positive;
Isolation feelings
  • Irritability, aggressive, risky or destructive behaviors
  • Extremely vigilant and easily startled
  • Difficulty Concentrating or sleeping

The VA and Vet Centers provide readjustment counseling to many combat Veterans and those exposed to other service-related traumas. Veteran’s family members can also receive similar care and counseling. To receive such care and further information or to locate a nearby Vet Center, go to vetcenter.va.gov/ or call 1-877-927-8387.

For immediate help, dial 911 or the VA Crisis Line at 1-800- 273-TALK (8255), press 1 or text 8388255. There are several kinds of PTSD therapies, including counseling, medications, group therapy (which is what I use) and a number of other options.

A PTSD Self Analysis includes:

Have you had such a trauma?

In the past month have you: 
(a) Suffered from PTSD nightmares or unwanted thoughts; 
(b) Tried not to think about your traumas? 
(c) Been constantly on guard or easily startled? 
(d) Felt numb and detached from people, activities and your surroundings? 
(e) Felt guilt and/or blame about your trauma?

TOMORROW—OUR VETERANS INFO TABLE WILL BE AT THE GARDENDENDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY FROM 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Come by and meet other Veterans and Veteran/Family Members. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!!!

As I always want to remind you, we Veterans and our families don’t have to face our problems alone. We are all in this together and answers from one person might be perfect for someone else. Share and learn and learn and share!

May God Bless our veterans (and their families), our military, our law enforcers, our fire fighters and EMTS. Our clergy, our teachers and our counselors and our elected officials, but most of all may the LORD BLESS YOU!

Gerald “Joe” Stahlkuppe is a combat Army veteran of the Vietnam War. An ordained clergyman, public speaker and author of several books, he lives with his wife in Gardendale. 

Questions or veterans issues you would like to see addressed in the column can be directed to Stahlkuppe at P.O. Box 849, Gardendale, AL 35071 or emailed to editor@njeffersonnews.com.

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