ELKTON, Va. (WHSV) — Communities across the Valley honored veterans on Friday, but Veterans Day also served as a reminder of the hardships veterans face daily across the country. About 20 veterans die by suicide every day, and many struggle daily with PTSD.
The town of Elkton held a ceremony on Friday to honor its veterans for their service, but also to highlight the troubling number of veteran suicides across the United States.
WHSV spoke with veterans and a medical professional about the challenges vets face and how people can help.
“If you see signs of stress among veterans, we need to reach out and help,” said David Anthony, a 30-year-old U.S. Army veteran from Elkton. “Yeah, especially with the number of veterans who are committing suicide in this country today, it’s astronomical,” added Arnold L. Dean, a veteran of the 101st Airborne from Elkton.
David Anthony said for friends and family of veterans who may be struggling, it’s important to keep an eye on their stress levels and support them.
“I think the best way to help is to be very receptive to any indicator of stress and offer to help them and get them to help as best you can. There are a lot of organizations involved in this stuff,” he said. “Don’t ignore any kind of stress you see in a veteran, whether it’s a family member or an associate.”
Seth Stace is an Iraq War veteran who lives in Elkton, he said it can be very difficult adjusting to civilian life after returning from combat.
“Your nerves are strained on a daily basis most of the time, and then you go back to what we call normal life and you try to find purpose in the daily 9-5 type routine,” Stace said.
Stace said that since returning home, he has always tried to pursue professional things that challenge him, provide camaraderie and allow him to fight for things he believes in.
“All those things that come back from the war are things that you are looking for. You don’t necessarily know how to identify them or how to say them, but when that’s non-existent or very rare in corporate America, it’s very difficult to make that transition,” he said.
Stace said one of the best ways to help veterans is to support organizations like the American Legion and the VFW.
“Veterans may not be able to communicate exactly what they need and providing groups and opportunities to be around other veterans is definitely one of the best ways,” he said. declared.
For veterans struggling with PTSD, one possible solution that is gaining popularity is the use of psychedelic treatments like ketamine infusions.
“Psychedelics is a term that describes drugs that give you some sort of out-of-body experience, but when we talk about psychedelics, we should divide them into two categories. One is FDA-approved drugs (ketamine) that help treat conditions like PTSD, and then non-FDA-approved drugs,” said Dr. Jay Joshi, CEO and Medical Director of the company based in Illinois. National Pain Centers.
15 years ago, Dr. Joshi and his team launched the first ketamine infusion treatment program for PTSD and have since treated thousands of patients.
“Ketamine infusions should be seen as a way to keep the mind from racing and it’s one of the main issues with PTSD,” Joshi said. “There’s nothing really debatable or voodoo about it, it’s basic science at its best.”
Joshi said the results for PTSD patients undergoing ketamine infusion treatments are phenomenal. He said 80-90% of patients show significant improvement after just one treatment.
“You have patients coming in who are extremely suicidal, they’re going through panic anxiety attacks, they can’t concentrate, they can’t concentrate, they can’t stay at work. And they leave the same day after the treatment feeling completely normal. Totally calm, their concentration is back, they can sleep, they can concentrate, they are happy,” he said.
Unfortunately, Joshi said the VA only started considering the idea of ketamine infusions as a treatment for PTSD in the past few years and the treatment was still not readily covered by the VA and others. insurers.
“I think the problem could come down to just paying, maybe they don’t want to pay even though in the long run you’re saving so much money and changing lives. The other problem is maybe they don’t understand it, so maybe it has a bad connotation and they just have a personal bias against it. But there really is no logical or medical reason to deny it,” he said.
Because of this, Joshi said, many veterans end up traveling to other countries for this type of treatment, as they often end up having to pay for it out of pocket.
“The biggest barrier to patients getting this type of treatment is insurance coverage, VA coverage, quality of VA providers, VA acceptance to allow their patients out of the VA system for treatment,” he said. “If we could just change that narrative, you would see a massive shift in the paradigm. You would see suicide rates drop dramatically, you would see patients able to return to work, return to their jobs, their families remaining intact as opposed to families fractured due to PTSD.
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