EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSLIFE AFTER WAR
from Eyewitness News Online
Resources Growing To Help Soldiers With PTSD, But More Work To Be Done
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Web Producer: Kallie Cart
Reported: Feb. 4, 2013 6:30 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 5, 2013 9:11 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The tragic death of an American war hero is shining a light on the struggles soldiers face when they return home from combat.
Chris Kyle was shot and killed on Saturday while at a gun range in Texas. Police say he went to the range with 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh. Routh is suspected of shooting Kyle and another man. Kyle won seven metals for his bravery in combat, serving multiple tours of duty overseas and was considered the most successful sniper in the U.S. military. He had since spent time helping other veterans adjust to life state-side. Authorities have not released a motive for the shooting but Routh, an Iraq war veteran, reportedly suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD is something that thousands of soldiers deal with and the resources to combat the problem are growing in West Virginia. While experts say West Virginia has come a long way in dealing with PTSD they also say we have a long way to go.
The Pentagon says more soldiers died or attempted suicide last year, than were killed in Afghanistan. A large part of that is the challenge of adjusting to life after war.
"You train your whole military career to go to war, so you're ready for that transition but it can be a sticky situation coming back home," Lt. Travis Willard with the West Virginia National Guard says.
Willard was deployed to Iraq and says coming home was a bit of a challenge. He says he didn't have post traumatic stress disorder, but like many soldiers, he did have some post traumatic stress.
He now leads the Resilience, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention program within the guard, one of many resources now offered to soldiers.
"There are some astounding advances in the methodology of treating it (PTSD), they're finding out what works and doesn't work," Col. Bruce Reed who heads the family programs for the guard says.
Reed says nearly 40% of service members suffer from some type of post traumatic stress, so they now assess soldiers every 30, 60 and 90 days from the time they return from combat. Reed also says there's still work to do, like training medical professionals in all parts of the state on the disorder.
But Willard says the key is getting the veterans to seek help.
"I think the programs are in place and I think the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is the stigma that's in place when it comes to seeking help," Willard says.
Col. Reed says the VA hospitals are a good place to turn for help, along with eight counseling centers and four family assistance centers in the state which are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You can also call the National Guard Family Assistance Center at 1-866-986-4326 and the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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