PENDLETON, Ind. —
“It’s normal to want to avoid something life-threatening, but it becomes problematic when it becomes generalizable,” said Tarr.
Although PTSD can happen to anyone, the high incidence among veterans is not surprising. They have faced life-threatening experiences, and may have seen truly horrible things.
The statistics are troubling.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day. It’s entirely possible that PTSD is a factor in that stark number. According to the VA, 30 percent of Vietnam veterans suffer from its symptoms. The incidence is between 11 percent and 20 percent for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And 10 out of a 100 veterans of the Gulf War experience PTSD.
Anderson veteran and DAV commander Larry Peeples volunteered at the VA office for two and a half years. He has drawn his own conclusion.
“Almost every veteran has some form of PTSD. It could be from combat or something that happened stateside – it’s any traumatic event. Unfortunately when folks are getting out of the military, they say they’re dealing with it, but they’re not.”
Climbing out of the box
Brenneman’s own climb out of the PTSD box has been long and challenging. In 2003, things started falling apart for him.
“I was coming home from work. I couldn’t feel my legs,” said Brenneman. A numbing neuropathy in his legs marked the beginning of a downward slide. “I pretty much wasted my life away,” the veteran said. His family stood by him, but not without difficulty.
“One day, I woke up and said I don’t want to do this anymore,” said Brenneman. “I kind of put myself through detox.”
With the support of Melissa and his kids, he started walking every day, eating a regular diet, tweaking his meds and beginning to receive counseling. After doing research, he figured out that a dog trained for his PTSD would be a real benefit.