20 years after 9/11: How VA Hospital works to help veterans with PTSD

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – September 11, 2021, changed the lives of Americans forever. For many servicemen and women, reliving the trauma from the attack on U.S. soil can trigger mental disorders.

Through specialized programs at the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, doctors are working with veterans to let them know they’re not alone.

“I think everyone is coming to terms with what this means on an individual basis and remembering what we’ve experienced, what we’ve sacrificed and trying to acknowledge the impact that it’s having on us today,” explained. Dr. Alexander Rakhshan, Residential Program Manager for Rehab PTSD Residential Program.

Leaders at the hospital said they’ve seen an uptick in patients around the anniversary of the attack, and September is also National Suicide Awareness Month.

“Our suicide prevention coordinators do reach out to a lot of our highest risk veterans who are having difficulty, and a lot of them do have most of their difficulties when they are trying to manage their triggers from war,” said Sharetta Young, Associated Chief of Staff Mental Health Service.

For many veterans, 9/11 can be an emotional trigger for stress, PTSD, anxiety and other mental disorders. Doctors at the VA Hospital said the first step is to accept help.

“I’ve spoken to many of them who are coming to terms with anger, confusion, sadness,” said Rakhshan.

“Your pain is real, what you feel is real, and working with a behavioral pain management team doesn’t say that it’s a psychological thing that your dealing with the pain. The goal is to kind of be able to connect what you feel physically to how that’s affecting the various areas of your life so that you can move forward with the pain,” said Dr. Ashley King-Profit, a staff psychologist.

Through the various mental health programs at the hospital, doctors come alongside the patients and family members to give a baseline for pinpoint triggers and how to integrate health lifestyle practices. They said the most important thing for people to know is there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“There is. We have had lots of success stories here at G.V. Sonny Montgomery of veterans who’ve thought they weren’t going to make it and thought they were at the end of their rope, and they’re families were at the end of their rope as well,” said Young.

Doctors said it’s also important for veterans to know they’re not alone. If you are suffering and need help, you can call the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.

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