GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4464 held its first post-traumatic stress disorder outreach Wednesday evening with local vets appearing with supporting family to share in fellowship with colleague veterans.
According to Charlie Huber, VFW member and commander of American Legion Post 27, veterans and their spouses, as well as a military chaplain and Woodland Centers counselors, appeared to walk with fellow veterans down the difficult road of reliving events during tours in combat. Among those appearing at the event, Vietnam War veterans were represented as well as individuals who had engaged in tours across Afghanistan and Iraq.
Kevin Mock, Shaniya Whitehead and other representatives of Woodland Centers spoke with veterans during the event.
Huber anticipates more individuals to appear with time to the “Circle of Healing,” as VFW members have come to call the gathering. The second event is geared to be at 6 p.m. April 7. Huber said veterans who had appeared at the event believed they would return and recommend the circle to others facing similar challenges in their lives. The circle is expected to meet every other Thursday.
“I think last night everybody was happy,” Huber said. “We just want veterans to know that there is a place for (them) to feel comfortable to talk. We encourage (them) to talk about anything (they) want. We want people to know there is a place with resources if (they) want to use them.”
Huber told the Tribune the idea of the outreach program came about from discussions with fellow veterans and colleagues at Woodland Centers. Huber acts as a maintenance employee with the nonprofit organization. With the help of Mock and other colleagues, both in the VFW and out, the outreach program idea was born.
Huber said Post 4464 was also reaching out to other veterans’ organizations in an effort to encourage individuals to attend the circle.
“‘Nam guys (Vietnam War veterans) are always go-go-go,” Huber said. “(Talking in the circle) we were picking up things that make us understand why we’re doing what we’re doing. You know, like the anxiety bit. Little things can get us more upset until we learn to cope.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder has often been called “combat neurosis,” or “shell shock,” in the past. Any individual having witnessed or experienced terrifying events can get PTSD. Veterans are often some of the most common individuals to be diagnosed with the condition given the nature of combat scenarios.
Experts suggest the disorder cannot be cured and can potentially be with an individual their entire life. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety. Psychotherapy as well as medications have been used to treat PTSD. Some Gallipolis VFW members in the past have emphasized they prefer therapy to medications as a treatment method.
For more information, the post can be reached at (740) 446-4464.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.