How veterans are dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-17 22:00:19-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Of the nearly 2. 5 million troops who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, between 14 and 20 percent could suffer with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

"PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm," the National Institute of Mental Health posted. "The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers."

Symptoms include:

  • Frightening thoughts
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts

The family of Washington Navy Yard shooting suspect Aaron Alexis said he told them he suffered from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Kim Shifflett, who was twice deployed to Iraq with the army, was diagnosed with PTSD.

She said it has helped talking about her feelings with others who have similar experiences.

"There are Facebook pages and private groups you can get involved in,” Shifflett said. “It always seems a bit easier to talk with people that have been through it, that understand it, that just know."

Others, like marine Scott Farley, have a hard time talking about the disorder.

“There's a lot of things I don't want to talk about and I would downplay a lot of stuff,” Farley said. "I know me, I had anxiety, outbursts and stuff like that. I don’t know if I’ll have to be on medication the rest of my life. The medication suppresses it."

Vivienne Wicks' son was diagnosed with PTSD after losing both of his legs in Iraq to a roadside bomb. Wicks said that she has run into some soldiers that didn't want to say a word about their experience overseas, but that eventually, there may come a time when it needs to be discussed.

Wicks also said that she hopes the Washington Navy Yard shooting will bring about more awareness for those with PTSD.

Veterans who need help dealing with PTSD can call 1-800-273-TALK or click here to visit