Prosser Soldier Speaks of His Personal Experience with PTSD--Seminar to Be Held to Help Veterans with PTSD - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Prosser Soldier Speaks of His Personal Experience with PTSD--Seminar to Be Held to Help Veterans with PTSD

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Friday, 10-26-07

Prosser --  The numbers of soldiers and Marines with post traumatic stress are rising.  It is now believed that one in five returning from the mideast will be forever changed by PTSD.

Billy Petersen of Prosser is a former Army Medic who has been diagnosed with severe post traumatic stress disorder.  This morning, Petersen detailed his experience since returning from his second tour in Iraq.

Petersen finds himself reacting strongly to sounds.  When a car backfires, his first response is to duck, and hit the ground.  He doesn't like to drive.  And he also avoids traffic circles.  Petersen says Iraq has hundreds of them, and that is where insurgents hide the bombs (IED, or improvised explosive devices).  He said he shakes when he is traveling in a traffic circle.

Petersen's mother, Mary said her son is cautious about anything on the roadway, and will drive 20 miles out of the way to avoid a dead animal.  That, too, was a place that IEDs were hidden.  Mary also spoke of a time when she attempted to awaken her son, only to be confronted with a knife.  She says she understands PTSD, and is aware that when Billy is startled he may return in his mind to the war time situations he experience in Iraq.  She is now careful when she awakens her son.

Symptoms of PTSD can range from anxiety and isolation, uncontrollable rage, substance abuse, and suicide.  Many who suffer are unable to hold down jobs.  Others isolate themselves.  Mary Petersen says her son spends 99 percent of his time in his darkened bedroom.

To understand a little about what soldiers are facing, consider an army report: As much as 86- percent of U.S. military in the field know someone who's been killed or seriously injured. Fifty percent have handled human remains. And 25 percent have killed a civilian.

To learn more about PTSD, you'll want to attend a seminar designed for veterans, their families and the community.  Bob Johnson of Pointman Ministries, who is putting on the meeting, said this week that what you learn could save a life.

The seminar is at Central Church in Richland on Saturday beginning at one p.m.  The church is located at 1124 Stevens Drive.

To learn more, contact