On June 22, President Obama announced that he will be bringing 10,000 troops home from Afghanistan no later than Dec. 31.
For many veterans, this declaration means a safe return home and more time with their families. However, for some, it is an unsettling event — to be forced back into normal, everyday society after seeing war.
“When you come back from war, there’s a six-month window,” said Jeremy Hicks, undergraduate, nursing major, honorably discharged. “You’ll find out if you have PTSD. You’ll find things out that things will bother you. For me, the TJC bell or an alarm that goes off almost freaks me out because when I was over there all I heard were the alarms going off and then rockets coming in at me.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you’ve seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.
“I don’t have PTSD, but those are triggers of it. It’s not having PTSD. It’s that thought in your mind saying ‘Hey, get ready cause you might being dying right now.'”
According to the PubMed Health, the cause of PTSD is unknown.
Psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors are involved. PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters). It is not known why traumatic events cause PTSD in some people but not others. Having a history of trauma may increase your risk for getting PTSD after a recent traumatic event.
Hicks is one of the many veteran students returning to TJC. He went into service when he was 20 years old had 10 weeks of basic training in Fort Jackson, S.C. He served for 12 months, came home and served 15 more months before he was honorably discharged and able to return home for good.
“When you get back and serve two terms like I did, you have respect having known that you went through war, and the benefits you receive after seem beneficial,” said Hicks.
Although soldiers are made ready for combat, there are still those who feel that is preparation for war focuses on the physical.
“I feel that no matter how much physical training our soldiers receive, it is only that, physical training. They can never be truly prepared for the emotional affects of war or battle. Personally, I feel that sometimes it can take a person longer to heal from emotional scars then from the physical ones,” said Roshonda Loftin, staff technician for Veterans Affairs.
TJC has several returning veterans every semester and offers benefits to veterans in order to make their education a smoother transition.
“The benefits we offer from the college standpoint is, we have a faculty student mentoring program, and we can offer placement tests exception. In other words, they don’t have to take the acuplacer test if they give me a copy of their 214,” said Mike Collins, Veterans Coordinator. “Depending on what benefits they are entitled to they can get anywhere from a monthly allowance, a housing allowance, or a books and supplies stipend that all comes as an entitlement because they served.”
Collins isn’t the only faculty veteran on campus who understands the transition from military to civilian life can be hard.
“I’m a veteran, so although I’m a little bit older and may have not been in Iraq or Afghanistan, I’m a Vietnam veteran. I’m a combat veteran so I understand a lot of what they have been through.” said Collins.
“If you’re 19 years old, and you got out of high school, and you went into the service. And you’ve been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, and you’ve seen some things that you probably shouldn’t have at that age. Then you come back and all of a sudden you’re thrown into an education setting, with no experience,” said Collins,
Collins is located in the White Administration Admissions Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Returning veterans are welcome to speak to Collins in order to begin enrollment and for mentoring. His number is (903) 510-3750.