Suicides among members of the US Army are at an all
time high right now. Licensed counselors say post traumatic stress disorder plays a large role in that increase.
One of the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder is depression. Experts say the emotional numbness and isolation
is a major contributing factor in soldier suicides but counselors say help is available.
Former Sergeant Jimmy Roberts spent 4 years with the
101st Airborne Division. He served two tours of duty in Iraq. After Roberts' first tour, he began noticing the
symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
"Once I got out and things started calming down, that's
when the night mares and flashbacks and all that stuff kind of affects you," said Jimmy Roberts.
Associate Licensed Counselor Terri Norwood has 2 sons
in the Army. She has studied PTSD extensively. She says PTSD symptoms include sleep issues, aggression, agitation,
flashbacks and depression.
"It's basically an anxiety type of response that they're
having to the issues and to the stress," said Norwood.
"Certain smells trigger memories and stuff like that
start coming back," said Roberts.
"People will literally hit the floor crawl under a
desk, physically hit the floor, because in that moment they've gone back in time that's where they are," said Norwood.
Norwood says there are an increased number of troops
returning with PTSD. The reason, they are serving multiple tours, with shorter breaks between trips. Also the
disorder has always been around, but now there's an increase in awareness and education. Norwood says the key to treatment
is to recognize the symptoms and seek treatment from a counselor that can relate to what the soldier went through.
"They don't want to see military counselor per se but
someone who has some understanding of military. The lifestyle is totally different and the culture's totally different than
civilian life," said Norwood.
For Roberts he just hopes the vivid flashbacks eventually
"Just the hope of finding a good therapy for it that
is my biggest thing," said Roberts.
Norwood says PTSD symptoms, along with other factors,
can lead to suicide but there are steps that can be taken to control the disorder. She says when troops return they
should exercise, lift weights, join a support group try a new athletic hobby, and search for spiritual encouragement.
Reporter: Stephanie Beecken firstname.lastname@example.org