On November 11, Americans take the time to remember and reflect the Veterans who’ve served the country in all branches of the military.
Many may think if you make it back in one piece, it’s a blessing, but war doesn’t always leave the mind of a soldier.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 20 out of every 100 Veterans who return from war, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This is something St. Cloud State University student Mckenzie Warne lives with every single day.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “[I] kind of feel like an outcast because there’s little things that make me tick that would seem crazy to other people, little things that are a big deal to me that aren’t as big of a deal to other people, so it makes me look like I’m crazy or I’m a bad person, even though I’m not.”
It’s a common mental health issue, making it more difficult to get by. With PTSD, it’s a constant battle. The sights and sounds of everyday living can be overwhelming, something as small as a chair tipping over can make them feel alarmed and trigger their worst memories.
“Some people were killed or injured and saw horrible things,” Joesph Melcher, SCSU Associate Professor of Psychology said. “Your body puts out a tremendous amount of neurotransmitters to help you respond to those situations, but they can also lay down the path to long-term problems to making you hypersensitive to stimuli.”
There used to be a lot of stigma around PTSD, as Professor Melcher said, when soldiers came back from World War 2, they had it, but most people just called it shellshock and just accepted it as a part of their daily lives, but now there’s available treatment for the disorder.
“There’s a lot of tests available now,” Melcher said. “That way, people can be more readily diagnosed and more ready to accept the diagnosis, they should do what they can to seek treatment if they believe they have it, often times it’s family or friends that will notice things and bring it up to the person that has it and because they may not realize they have it.”
Warne said he wants others to get the treatment they need, just like he did because without, a lot of dark thoughts and feelings can arise.
“They’re going through the same stuff I am, with whatever you’re doing and wasting your life on you go get the help you need, even though we’re not in the uniform and we’re not in the thick of things.”
He also wants to remind them, what they’re fighting for.
“We’re always gonna be service members, we’re always gonna have that pride, we’re always gonna have that love, that’s why we do it, but that’s one of the biggest things when I was on a downward spiral I kept thinking in my head, I’m not gonna give the enemy a kill they didn’t earn, that’s why we put on the uniform.”
If you are a Veteran and think you’re suffering from PTSD, you can set up an appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services on campus or contact the St. Cloud VA for counseling. Numbers are listed below:
St. Cloud VA: 320-252-1670