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Military Leaders, First Responders Learn About PTSD

by ABC-7 Reporter/Anchor Celina Avila

EL PASO, Texas -- In an attempt to increase awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder, military leaders and first responders in our community were invited to a symposium at Sierra Providence Medical Center.

Firefighters on harnesses at the scene of a bad crash. An elderly couple murdered, allegedly in front of children. A deadly shooting of an high-schooler, allegedly by a Fort Bliss soldier in need of mental help.

Those are not only recent headlines but actual emergencies. "Everybody looks at you and expects you to be the strong one," said El Paso police officer Michael Baranyay.

A somber video detailed the reality of war was shown to various law enforcement agencies. The video shed light on post-traumatic stress disorder and how it can affect the tough men and women we look to protect us.

"This is an injury like a shrapnel wound or a gun shot wound," said Dr. John Fourtunato, who heads a unique center on Fort Bliss that was founded to help soldiers with PTSD.

"Twenty percent of service members coming back need some kind of care.''

Patrol officer Baranyay says, "It's not necessarily negative, I mean it's a natural occurrence that's going to happen to people who go through this."

Officials say that's the attitude the military is starting to adopt.

"The post commander is considering a policy that would actually impose sanctions if leaders in any way prevented or ridiculed a soldier for getting help," said Fourtunato.

He says it's especially tough to get these tough individuals to understand. "There's a strong biological disposition that's nobody's fault about why some people are prone to combat stress injuries than others."

Fourtunato said it's OK to seek help: "Look, you're not weak, but you got to be strong enough to go get help."

For more information on PTSD, go to http://ptsdinfo.org and http://www.ptsd.va.gov.


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