Shedding light on PTSD

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kailee Reynolds
  • 47th Flying Training Wing

Amidst the valor and camaraderie of military service, a stigmatized, unspoken battle can haunt the lives of the brave men and women who serve. Overlooked by the heroic tales of valor, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stands as an invisible yet profound issue that continues to impact military personnel long after they leave the battlefield.

PTSD can, however, affect anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.

“We all will go through traumatic events in our lifetime,” said Maj. Stephen Hughes, 47th Medical Group Mental Health Flight commander. “PTSD can progress when we develop patterns of thinking about ourselves, the world, and other people as a result of trauma. PTSD can become a very invasive problem that will continue to expand in a person’s life if it is not addressed. This has the possibility of interfering with their work, their relationships, and their physical health.”

Both Laughlin AFB and the U.S. Air Force as a whole take the mental health of their personnel seriously and are continually taking steps to provide the best resources to support those struggling with PTSD.

Dedicated professionals at the 47th Medical Group specialize in treating PTSD and similar conditions, offering resources such as counseling, therapy, and medication management.

PTSD is characterized by a range of symptoms, including intrusive memories, reoccurring nightmares, hypervigilance, and avoidance of people, places or items that serve as reminders of the traumatic event. Emotional numbness, quick changes in mood, emotional or physical reactions to triggers associated with the trauma and cognition difficulties such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating are also common symptoms

These symptoms often interfere with daily life and can persist for months or years if left untreated.

Recognizing the symptoms of PTSD is crucial for early intervention and treatment. Any servicemembers who recognize symptoms are encouraged to act.

“The first step would be to schedule an appointment with our Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH),” said Hughes. “Our PCBH office is available to see both Active Duty and dependents. Additionally, the mental health clinic offers both group and individual therapy and treatment to Active Duty service members.”

PTSD is a mental health condition that may develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. These events can include anything from combat, natural disasters, accidents, and personal assaults.

According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs website, “Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. Some factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. For example, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. PTSD is also more common after certain types of trauma, like combat and sexual assault.”

By looking out for oneself, fellow Airmen and peers, the Air Force can change the stigma around PTSD and mental health conditions.

“The biggest thing that a friend or family member can do, is to be supportive,” said Hughes. “Communicate that you understand that they are hurting and that you want them to be okay. Be consistent with them and show them that you haven’t changed in your feelings for them. However, communicate to them the ways that their symptoms may be impacting you. For example, some individuals with PTSD can become very angry quite quickly. Express that this anger is unpleasant for you and sometimes makes you feel unsafe, while also letting them know that you still care for them and will be there for them while they are getting help.”

By raising awareness about the symptoms and risks of untreated PTSD within the community, individuals can feel more encouraged to open a dialogue and take advantage of the many resources available to them, leading them to embark on a journey towards recovery and well-being.

Sources of information: &