Veterans battle Post Traumatic Stress

By Brad Underwood - bio | email

FORT THOMAS, KY (FOX19) - Nightmares of deadly flashbacks interrupted sleep and made life a struggle for one veteran after returning home from Iraq.

Joseph Thoman, an veteran from the  11th Bravo Infantry Unit in  the United States Army served during the invasion of Iraq and a year after, during the insurgency. Like many returning veterans he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder of PTSD.

"I was getting depressed and having nightmares....I couldn't quit thinking about things that happened over there," said Thoman.

Those thoughts and feelings are common for service men and women returning from war, and a recent study by the United States Army revealed that 17 percent of veterans suffer from PTSD six months after post deployment.

After trying to ignore the traumatic memories of fire fights and searches for road side bombs, Thoman sought help.

"I called the Cincinnati VA and they got me connected with the Fort Thomas PTSD outpatient program," Thoman said.

Thoman entered one of the programs at the Fort Thomas Medical Center and began a three month program working with doctors through cognitive process therapy.

"We looked back and identified the emotions behind it, broke it down and tried to find a positive way to look at it," said Thoman. "I could tell week by week things were getting better."

Dr. Katie Chard, Director of the PTSD and Anxiety Disorders Division for the Cincinnati VA, says there is a stigma regarding veterans and PTSD and that needs to change.

"People have a misperception that people with PTSD are these crazy angry veterans who keep guns under their beds, have anger management issues and can't be trusted," Chard said.

The Cincinnati VA and the Fort Thomas Medical Center are leading the fight nationwide with its programs that help veterans with PTSD get their lives back.  The three programs offered for veterans provide specific cognitive therapy to restructure veterans thought processes to control the unwanted and traumatic memories.

The men's and women's resident program are seven weeks long and the new traumatic brain injury program runs nine weeks.

"We're seeing high rates of concussions and blast injuries, and with that we're seeing a lot of men and women come back with PTSD and traumatic brain injury," said Chard.  "We actually get referrals from all over the country."