by Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- In just the past two months, counselors throughout the Basin have seen more young combat veterans walking through their doors with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Since U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in December of 2011, a large population of 20-something year-old veterans are now back in the basin trying to figure out how to re-assimilate to society. Many of them have started to realize that getting back to "normal" is a lot tougher than they had originally thought it would be.
Kent Knight helps operate the Midland Vet Center.
"These are not broken people in any sense of the imagination. They're just having major readjustment issues," Knight said.
On average, these vets are about 26 years-old, and finally back home after a long stretch in the Middle East.
"I had one vet that recently did four tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan," Knight said.
For all the ones that do seek PTSD counseling at Midland Vet Center, there are countless others who shy away from it.
"A lot of them are apprehensive and a lot of them aren't really willing to be open and talk about it," Jill Skaggs, with the Permian Basin Health Education Center, said.
"They're a really tight family and they're really guarded against seeking help because they don't think anything is wrong with them and the argument is pretty strong that there's not. They're behaving exactly how they were being trained to [behave]," Knight said.
The Permian Basin Area Health Education Center says they've been contacted by Midland Police about this. Officers have been called out to check on residents having psychotic episodes. What they later come to find is that these men and women are veterans having breakdowns.
Triggers are everywhere.
"A commercial on television with a Jeep driving through the desert can trigger something in their brains that reminds them of when they were in the desert getting bombed," Skaggs said.
The center says there's a growing need for more health professionals in the Basin who can handle these types of patients. They're organizing a training seminar for healthcare workers to teach them how to respond to this increasing population. It is scheduled to take place at Midland College on August 23rd. For more information, contact (432) 685-8340.
To contact the Midland Vet Center, please call (432) 697-8222.
If you're a veteran or a family member of a veteran and you need immediate counseling, you can call 1-877-WAR-VETS, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.