Local veterans now have more than one place to go for help in treating post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
A new non profit organization has formed to service, support, and advocate for local vets with PTSD.
It was back in January that NewsCenter 16 told you about a post traumatic stress support group that was created by the same South Bend Veterans Administration Clinic, that suddenly and without explanation, fired its leader.
The support group had been together for about three years.
“We were already a group, we were already working when we got stopped, and we weren't ready to stop,” said Dr. Michael Sheehan, the fired group leader.
So Sheehan and others decided to start PTSD Vets Inc. which now exists in cyberspace at the address ptsdvets.com, and in the real world based at the Colfax Cultural Arts Center in South Bend.
Today the group celebrated its status as a not for profit corporation. The guest speaker was an attorney who has fought many a PTSD battle.
"In my opinion, it's [PTSD] a thorn in their [the Veterans Administration] side, because it's not like a broken bone that you can see on x-ray and you can see if its healed or not healed,” said attorney Wade Bosely, or Bosely, McKnown and Bratch of Marion, Indiana.
Bosely has made a career out of challenging V.A. denials of disability benefits. He understands the frustration felt by the local PTSD group, and he applauds the group’s unique response.
"Going out on their own and not waiting for the V.A. to react to them, but to take care of their own, I think it's wonderful,” said Bosely.
Now, returning soldiers who have PTSD problems have more than one place to turn for help.
"We got organized cause the mental health was stopped at the local V.A., so therefore, they dropped the ball on us and we didn't have anywhere to go to,” said Mitch Applewhite, PTSD Vets Inc. Board President.
Applewhite says that the South Bend V.A. initially responded to the situation in January by bringing social workers from other cities to assist local PTSD patients. Applewhite claims that a “social worker can't handle the problems that we have as PTSD vets.”
Applewhite claims that the South Bend V.A. clinic still hasn’t recovered from the January house cleaning. He says the clinic hired a new psychiatrist only recently and that a new psychologist was due to be on the premises until December.
In the meantime, Applewhite says that local vets were sent scrambling to Battle Creek, north Chicago, and Marion to get help.
PTSD Vets Inc. plans to train some volunteer veterans in peer counseling. Those vets will then help other vets deal with the disorder.