COLORADO SPRINGS — As many of us prepare to celebrate our nation's birth with fireworks, gatherings and cookouts, for so many veterans these celebrations can cause painful reminders of war and distress and trigger PTSD.
For the men and women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, it can take something as small as a smell or a sound to trigger a horrible memory.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans varies depending on which conflict a service member was involved in.
For instance, 20% of veterans who served in operations Iraqi freedom and Enduring Freedom have reported having PTSD in a given year, compared to about 12% of Gulf War veterans and 15% of Vietnam War veterans.
Not only that, but a local Marine Corps veteran and counselor said there is still a stigma when it comes to veterans talking about their issues and seeking help.
"There is definitely a deep stigma regarding mental health in the Armed Forces," said Katrina Hepner, a licensed professional counselor with Thriveworks, and in Colorado Springs. "Think about it, you are a man, and you are fighting for your country, how dare you go and talk to the crazy doctor," Hepner explained.
Symptoms of PTSD may include nightmares or insomnia, negative changes in mood, intrusive thoughts of the trauma, and avoidance or social isolation.
Hepner says therapy can help. Talking to someone about your problems can definitely help.
"Therapy has clinically proven to make PTSD a lot better," she said.
If you have a veteran in your life check on them throughout this weekend. If you are a veteran who suffers from PTSD, help is out there! The National Suicide Hotline for Veterans is 1-800-273-8255.