Specialists are bringing awareness to PTSD as veterans continue to battle the disorder

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 5:17 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - June is PTSD Awareness Month and according to the Veteran’s Affairs, about six of every 10 men and five of every 10 women have experienced a traumatic event in their lives. Those experiences can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Karen Allen, a military admissions senior counseling advisor at Texas A&M University, was on First News at Four. She is also an incoming board member and volunteer with the Elk Institute for Psychological Health and Performance.

A nonprofit, the Elk Institute was established to provide mental health education, consultation, treatment, and clinical research to our military and veteran communities. This week, the CEO, Carrie Elk, is in the Brazos Valley treating veterans battling PTSD.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about it,” Allen said. “There are probably veterans around us everyday that are functioning very well and you probably don’t know that they are veterans and that they are struggling with PTSD.”

Allen says it is important to reach those who are struggling.

“Veterans are absolutely a crucial part of our community being successful, because the more we can make every community successful, the better our community is.”

Psychotherapist Carrie Elk travels all over the country to treat veterans. Her specialty is in treating traumatically-stored memories using what she describes as a combined imaginal exposure approach using only select aspects of the existing empirically-based methodologies in which traumatized individuals learn to reprocess difficult memories so they can remember them without the associated trauma.

Allen says the pandemic has caused even more veterans to reach out for a variety of reasons.

“Some of it is for service members who are going to school now. Maybe they lost a part-time job or their spouse has,” Allen said. “Those things are weighing on them in a way that never had before.”

Veterans are predisposed to selfless service. Allen says for them to lose that capacity to be able to serve, it is very difficult. Especially for veterans transitioning out of the military.

“What we see is a large influx of people wanting to go to school because they know education is a way to move forward in their careers,” Allen said.

The VA says some common reactions to trauma are stress, fear, and anger. Traumatic events can create a high level of feeling alert or “on guard”, which can cause people to react strongly to sounds and sights around them.

“Situational awareness is very common,” Allen said. “They may have been surprised previously in a situation and they don’t want to be in that situation again where something can happen and they weren’t prepared for it.”

If you are a veteran battling PTSD and are seeking treatment, visit this website to receive treatment from Carrie Elk through the Elk Institute. Elk does not charge treatment for military men and women.

“Her institute serves veterans all over the country, but very specifically, Brazos Valley veterans.”

Click on the video player above for more information.

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