Lawmakers, veterans groups working to remove PTSD stigma - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Lawmakers, veterans groups working to remove PTSD stigma

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LANSING (WJRT) - (06/25/14) - Vietnam veteran Kent Hall says it's a wound, not a weakness. The difference is subtle but could make a huge impact on the number of veterans suffering after their time in the military.

Lawmakers in Lansing and veterans groups declared June 27 as Post Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day in Michigan. They're switching from the word disorder to injury to ease the stigma that surrounds suffering soldiers.

It's a real problem for veterans. Right now, 22 vets take their life everyday in America.

"I left Vietnam in 1969, unfortunately Vietnam never left me," Hall said, who grew up in Linden but now lives in the Lansing area.

That's the case for thousands of veterans across the country. Even after graduating college, getting married and starting a family, Hall couldn't shake thoughts of suicide.

"It knocks me down for a few days but I don't do anything silly, the suicide thoughts, I'm able to get those out of the way whereas it was a real problem," he said.

Hall attributes that to his decision to open up about his post traumatic stress disorder and get help. But that word - disorder - is a turn off for many vets.

"I used to work in mental health in Saginaw County and I'm nothing like the clients that I serviced and I have a real problem with the mental illness part," said Vietnam vet Buzz Sodeman.

That's why Representative Joe Graves wrote the resolution to name a day for those suffering with PTSI. They hope the change in terminology will result in more vets getting the help they need.

"We shouldn't be looked down as a mental illness, it's an injury from war," Graves said.

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