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Report Finds Government Treatment For PTSD Is Lacking; How A Local Organization Is Helping

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A new report shows our government isn't prepared to treat the growing number of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder cases. The Institute of Medicine report found that despite billions of dollars spent,  a "lack of standards, reporting, and evaluation" has hurt government efforts to treat PTSD.

The report also said the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs have made a commitment to PTSD, but they need better coordination between the two.

Jason's Box is a local organization created by the mother of a fallen soldier, dedicated to improve the health and well-being of our troops.

One of those soldiers is a local volunteer veteran helping other veterans. Or as they like to call it, a "Battle Buddy". 

"If it's day by day or hour by hour, you will get better," said Operation Enduring Freedom veteran Mitch Chapman. "It does take time and you will have relapses, but you will get better."

Mitch Chapman was hit by an IED in Afghanistan almost 6 years ago. He said when he returned home, he knew something was wrong.

"Nightmares, flashbacks, crowds, I didn't like a lot of crowds and I still suffer from that, but I just felt different," said Chapman.

He said he suffers from PTSD and he wants other soldiers to know... 

"Just because you have PTSD doesn't mean you're weak," said Chapman. "Just because you go get help, doesn't mean you're weak."

That's one of the barriers a local military mental health expert said makes it difficult to treat veterans with PTSD.

A report from the Institute of Medicine states only half of people diagnosed with the disorder, actually get treatment.

"It's not just waiting lists at VA's. It's not just the VA not being able to accommodate," said department chair of psychiatry at Genesis Health Systems and Commanding Officer for Expeditionary Medical Facility, Great Lakes One Dr. Jeffrey Weyeneth. "As there is with any mental health issues, there's still a stigma associated with it and people are hesitant to identify that."

Dr. Weyeneth said mental health is also an under served field, especially in Iowa and it does take time and diligence to get through treatment.

"There's no quick fix, there's no easy way to get in quickly," said Dr. Weyeneth. "You're certainly not going to call and get an appointment the next day. It does take some time sometimes to get in and I think people shouldn't be discouraged."

That's where local community organization Jason's Box comes in, helping support veterans and educate the public about military culture and PTSD.

"They do need more people to help," said president and founder of Jason's Box Teri Johnson. "I don't think we really anticipated how large of a problem this was going to be and it's going to get worse, so we really need to take a serious look at that in all communities."

As for Mitch, he said some wounds are invisible. 

"Reach out for help, the VA will help you. Call us Jason's Box, we'll help. If you see me out, just say hey, I'm here to help you guys," said Chapman. 

If you're veteran in a crisis, you can call 1-800-273-8255. 

Click here for more information on Jason's Box. 
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