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Veterans PTSD Is On the Rise, New Programs to Help

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Howell, NJA program aimed at combating Veterans PTSD in New Jersey will not only help those who return from harm's way, but help in continuing to spread the word that post traumatic stress disorder veterans are out there and increasing in number, as recent reports suggest.

Author Ethan Watters, writing in the Independent Extra in the UK on April 8, noted differences between US and British soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Watters notes that there appears to be a sharp increase in cases of va ptsd in the US. Between 2006 and 2007 alone, he writes, there has been a 50 percent increase in cases of post traumatic stress disorder. He also notes that amongst veterans suffering from PTSD, the suicide rate has more than doubled.

PTSD is known as the invisible wounds of war. You can't physically see mental or emotional trauma as readily as you would note a missing limb, or all manner of physical scar tissue. But the scars are real nonetheless, and the New Jersey Medical Society (NJMS)—together with the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs—are joining forces to recruit doctors with prior experience in the military to volunteer their time to meet with returning service personnel.

According to the April 6 issue of Today's Sunbeam, some 1,500 members of the New Jersey National Guard have come home from combat over the past 18 months. Many are suffering from the aforementioned invisible wounds of war, combat ptsd.

The program is dubbed "Healers and Heroes," and will link returning service personnel with doctors able and willing to help by tapping into the "bond that service men and women have between themselves," said Donald Cinotti, the NJMS President. We hope this will be an outlet for them to express the things that are bothering them, and to express the medical problems they are having."

The goal is to recruit 100 doctors to the program. About a dozen have committed so far.

Two of those who have signed on both have combat experience in the Middle East. Thoracic surgeon Vince Moss and his urologist twin brother Vance share a practice in Howell. But they also served in the Army together in the Middle East, and were grateful to have each other to discuss what they saw and felt.

Vance Moss, 39, said he felt "clinically depressed" upon returning because his "adrenaline was so pumped up," a comment which suggests there are many different causes associated with this kind of veterans disability, and PTSD does not necessarily have to stem from something horrific. But it is real nonetheless.

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