Thursday, 27 September 2012

Presentation explains mental health of returning vets

Presentation explains mental health of returning vets

Presentation explains mental health of returning vetsVanessa Renderman, (219)
CROWN POINT | When veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, they don't leave their wartime experiences on the battle field.

They remember the mortar rounds that fell, but for whatever reason did not detonate, the faces of children who died being used by the enemy as road blocks and the remains of their fallen comrades.

Those stories and more were examples in a workshop Wednesday hosted by Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, who brought in a panel of speakers, including licensed clinical psychologist John Mundt.

The presentation, given to an audience of mostly law enforcement members, was to help them understand mental health problems affecting those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Buncich said he has been in closer contact with the jail's mental health ward over the last several months and has heard of some sad cases of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans arrested and ending up there.

One veteran caught shoplifting was living out of his car and suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I said we've got to try to separate this," Buncich said.
He said he is vigorously pursuing instating a veterans court, similar to one in Porter County.

Officers booking people into the Lake County Jail have started determining whether they're veterans. If so, they are categorized as such in a database, Buncich said.

He said it is important for officers to know that, when they approach someone who is violent or alcoholic or involved in domestic disputes, there may be a deeper mental reason behind the outburst.

Not all returning veterans will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder — commonly known as PTSD — but almost all will experience some of its symptoms, such as insomnia, depression and anger management problems, Mundt said.
Mundt, a staff psychologist at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, said multiple deployments increase the chance for mental health problems.

Ingrained military training, such as maintaining a heightened level of awareness, does not go away when armed forces members return to U.S. soil, he said.

It follows them to concerts, church and sporting events. They're always scanning, checking for possible threats.
The stress of not being able to relax can land people in trouble, he said. One of his patients was arrested after suffering a panic attack in a mosh pit and beating up a couple of people.

Every time a service member is killed in the line of duty, about five buddies saw it happen, Mundt said. Calling it the "stuff of flashbacks," he said those moments are the seeds of post traumatic stress disorder.

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