June is PTSD Awareness month, and local veteran Gregg Maynard shared his thoughts on the subject.
OKEECHOBEE — June is PTSD Awareness month, and local veteran Gregg Maynard shared his thoughts on the subject.
Although veterans are the individuals normally associated with PTSD, Maynard said the disorder is common in many who have never served in the military as well.
Law enforcement officers are at tremendous risk for PTSD, he said. Recently, Maynard served as a mentor at a retreat in South Dakota, and it was open to law enforcement and other first responders. “The number of officers coming through there was pretty high.” The number of those suffering with the disorder is getting higher and higher. “The bad thing about it with that profession,” he said, “is that it’s kind of a taboo. They can’t talk about it. If you mention you are having problems, you might as well hang your career up.”
He went on to explain if someone joins a law enforcement agency and then five years down the road is involved in a shooting which “messes him up,” he can not go to someone he works with and tell them he is having trouble, because they will not be able to have confidence he will have their back. “A lot of first responders keep that under wraps. You have to work a certain number of years to get retirement. If something happens early on, then bam! You’ve got another 15 or more to go. If you can’t work in law enforcement anymore, then what are you supposed to do? Go flip burgers or bag groceries?”
One of the best parts about the retreat Maynard took part in and other similar retreats is that the officers or firefighters or veterans or corrections officers or whatever they may be, can feel confident what they share will not get out. It stays within the retreat where others have been through similar situations and understand what they are going through. “It helps them build a support system.”
PTSD strikes individuals of any age, gender or race said Maynard. He believes it was a little harder for the older veterans because they were taught men needed to just “suck it up and get over it.” Now, there is a little more acceptance and help out there.
According to the National Center for PTSD, “Stress is a common reaction after trauma. Many people feel down, have trouble sleeping or feel "on edge." If you take direct action to cope with stress reactions it puts you in a position of power. Self-help and coping skills are also helpful if you completed PTSD therapy. Good coping takes practice. This section includes information about stress reactions, ways you can cope and tools to help you manage stress.”
Their website lists the following suggestions for coping:
The National Center for PTSD can be reached at email@example.com or 802-296-6300.