By MICHAEL HIRSH
May 30, 2017
David “Dozer” Henderson of Punta Gorda began experiencing intense PTSD symptoms after seeing news footage of bodies coming home from the war in Iraq. He currently runs a PTSD veterans therapy group. MICHAEL HIRSHThe U.S. Census shows Florida is home to nearly half a million Vietnam veterans. The VA’s health clinic in Cape Coral alone served 37,000 of them last year—and the number of Vietnam veteran baby boomers retiring to Southwest Florida just keeps increasing. A significant number of these new retirees are showing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—or PTSD—often for the first time.
For a veteran who’s never shown symptoms of PTSD—or doesn’t remember ever showing symptoms—connecting new behaviors to what happened in a war fifty years ago can be difficult. Clinical psychologist Dr. Lynn Bernstein runs therapy groups specifically for Vietnam vets and family members in Englewood. She said the symptoms include:
“Not being able to handle stress,” said Bernstein. “The symptoms of avoiding people. Sleeplessness. Irritability. Road rage. Impatience with other people. Only associate with vets. Difficulty sharing their emotions.”
Bernstein said those symptoms combine with other, more well-known PTSD systems.
Bernstein and other therapists said PTSD occurs or reoccurs in retirement because it’s a time in life with less structure.Yes and maybe now you'll understand why 65% of the suicides involve veterans over the age of 50 then maybe you can explain to me why all the charities are not even talking about them or helping them?
Vets have more time to think. They may have been using work as a way to cope. They were self-medicating by turning into workaholics. Now, that coping mechanism is no longer available, and any number of events can trigger symptoms. Even something as simple as going to an Asian restaurant, even though the vet may have eaten at the restaurant throughout their working life.
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