Help for Veterans Suffering from PTSD

Millions of people struggle with post traumatic stress disorder. In extreme cases it can lead to suicidal thoughts.

After serving 6 years in the military, Gerald Ruffin never thought he would be living with post traumatic stress disorder. But after his symptoms progressed, he knew he had to get help.

“As life went on they started to mount up and get worse and worse and I came up here and they diagnose me with it and I was like wow,” says Ruffin.

Ruffin started treatment in April at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System’s Tuskegee campus.  He says has already seen a difference in his life.

“Coming here they ensure that you get back out and start doing things that you stopped doing, in other words you have to relearn your life all over again and re-learn the things that you did before that made you happy, that were therapeutic for you,” says Ruffin.

Dr. Courtnery Worley a psychologist at CAVHCS works closely with veterans experiencing PTSD says it is never too late to get help but it must done

“Some people go on to have those symptoms persist and that would be symptoms like re-experiencing so having the trauma come back to you in some way whether that is through nightmares, unwanted or intrusive thoughts throughout the day, memories or emotions,” says Worley.

30 percent of her case load are veterans from the Vietnam and Korean War era and World War II.

VA officials say there are some veterans with the illness that have suicidal thoughts, which is why emergency care is readily available at VA hospitals.

“We’re seeing more and more people coming in for treatment but we’re also seeing people coming in for the first time that were exposed to trauma many, many years ago and they have delayed care or saw symptoms emerge in retirement,” says Worley.

Worley says seeking treatment allows patients to learn new ways to cope using medications and therapy. It is something that veterans like Ruffin are grateful for.

“I like to say I’m in the Renaissance of my life now because I’m starting over and learning new things,” says Ruffin.

The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs reports that the suicide rate is increasing more for veterans who don’t seek VA care, than those veterans who actually do get VA care help.

If you are a veteran experiencing PTSD or know someone who is, help is always available starting with the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-82-55.

To learn more about the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, visit www.centralalabama.va.gov. 

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