PTSD month, a fathers story

By Tina Turvey

June is PTSD month; PTSD or “ post traumatic stress disorder” became well known in veterans, called “shell shock”. Now we know that the condition can occur in not only vets but in victims of violent crime, the witnessing of traumatic events, first responders like police, EMT personal, and fire fighters. I have seen and experienced the effects of PTSD all my life; my father became affected while serving during the latter part of the Vietnam era years. Serving on the USS Kennedy (a naval aircraft carrier) My father was a fireman who put out breakout fires in aircraft. I sat down with him and asked him the following questions:

  1. How has your experiences in the military made your life difficult or hard to Manage?

I was lucky that during the time I was in the military I was training in martial arts which helped me cope. Dealing with and trying to get rid of PTSD anxieties, nightmares and flashbacks after my discharge was more of a problem and I needed help to get things under control.

  1. What helps the most with your symptoms? What helps the least?

Exposure therapy helped me the most; not confronting my fears helped me the least. The goal of exposure therapy was to slowly  expose and face stress causes. Stairwells triggered me the most and produced very disturbing memories and flashbacks as I fought fires in the stairwells of my ship. I avoided them for years! Increasing my exposure to them lessened my symptoms.

  1. What would you like people to know about your experiences?

That I have learned that there are very few problems in life, including PTSD that can’t be improved.

  1. Do you think or recommend people  follow your service? Knowing your difficulties?

Military life is not for everybody. It entails great risk and great rewards. I would do it all over again. Many have died–I know that. If one is young and healthy I would recommend it; but as I said, it is not for everybody.

  1. What do you think would help vets the most in this country? Do people receive adequate help in you opinion? How can people show appreciation for those who suffer for the common good?

I cannot say enough good things about the Veteran Administration. They help vets out a lot and if you really care about vets and out active duty personnel just thank them when you run across them, same with the police and firefighters.