June is PTSD Awareness Month

“PTSD: It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person.” -Unknown

Did you know June is PTSD Awareness Month? It is important to continually raise awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) so that people facing this harsh, personal battle do not have to fight it alone. Here at Soldier’s Best Friend we acknowledge the devastating effects of war on our military members and are dedicated to helping combat veterans reduce their symptoms by pairing them with trained Service or Therapeutic Companion Dogs.

What are the symptoms of PTSD? (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD, but they may not be exactly the same for everyone. Each person experiences symptoms in their own way.

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  3. Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly).

If you think you may be living with PTSD, you can visit The National Center for PTSD to complete a self-screen of your symptoms. Completing this self-screen does not necessarily mean you have PTSD, as some symptoms can also be linked with depression and other issues. Because this self-screen test serves as a small scope of the issues some may face when living with PTSD, visiting with a mental health care professional can be paramount to addressing your symptoms effectively and embarking on a course of appropriate treatment for you.

If you are an Arizona veteran or active-duty member who has a confirmed diagnosis of combat-related PTSD, we encourage you to take the next step and request an application for our program. Eligible out-of-state veterans may also apply, if they are able to make the time commitment for training (average 6-9 months). Soldier’s Best Friend is dedicated to serving those who served us by pairing them with service or therapeutic companion dogs to help them reduce their PTSD symptoms and readjust to civilian life.

Whether you have or have not been personally affected by the challenges that exist for those living with PTSD, it is clear that it is a daily battle that cannot be overcome without the help and service of generous people. If you feel compelled to donate as a way of helping reach more veterans living with this debilitating mental health problem, there are many options available to touch two lives at once through Soldier’s Best Friend. You can donate your time by becoming a volunteer, a foster parent for our rescued shelter dogs patiently waiting to serve their veteran or you can make a donation to support veteran and dog teams. For more opportunities to give back to veterans living with PTSD you can visit the ‘Donate’ tab at the top of the page.