Experts say about 20 percent of veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder — and there’s little understanding about why it stalks some of America’s finest and not others.
One Davis psychologist says there is no shame in admitting that you’re struggling.
He should know; he’s had to admit it himself.
“It was Fourth of July and suddenly I was under the furniture,” said Woodman.
Often used at ceremonies to honor veterans, the sound of fireworks was so similar to machine gun fire that it brought back horror for a newly discharged 23-year-old Robert Woodman.
But, he couldn’t outrun his body’s response to what he’d survived. He couldn’t outrun post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I came up out of the underground and I remembered it was the smell of gasoline. Not the same as here, but the same as Vietnam,” said Woodman.
That was one of many flashbacks and nightmares that crippled Woodman as he tried to master life outside of the combat zone.
“I started crying for days and finally somebody said maybe you should go to the VA,” he said.
Then, after 10 years of struggling, Woodson began learning how to let go of the anger and anxiety that’s plagued thousands of his fighting brethren.
It’s the same condition that’s plagued thousands of others who’ve done battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, as a psychologist, he carefully leads other veterans back through their traumas in prolonged exposure therapy. It can silence PTSD.
“Look, I’m sitting here alive, healthy. A good life. I’m proof that treatment works,” he said.
If you see a veteran you love raging at a situation that should have been a mild annoyance, startling at loud sounds or distancing themselves from people you know they care about, it may be time to get them help for PTSD.