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Here’s How To Celebrate National PTSD Awareness Day



July is just around the corner, but before we honor our troops it’s important to understand what they’ve been through.

Starting in 2010, Congress announced that June 27 marks National PTSD Awareness Day. Four years later, the Senate dedicated the full month of June for National PTSD Awareness. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is “a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.” This condition isn’t only limited to soldiers and veterans. Normal civilians can also have PTSD, which makes raising awareness so important.

It’s not uncommon for us to have our fair share of distressing memories that give us anxiety. Sometimes seeing an event might make it difficult to go about our daily lives. Most people tend to recover after a few weeks or months. However, if you or someone you know has been struggling for more than a few months, they might have PTSD.

Here are a few ways you can observe and contribute to National PTSD Awareness Day:

1. Educate yourself.

Knowledge is always the first step. Start off by doing some research. Learn the basics of PTSD. Even if you’re not familiar or interested in learning psychology, it doesn’t hurt to be informed. If you’re still in college, try taking an introductory psychology class. You’ll find that the information you learn can be applied to many career paths.

2. Reach out.

There are multiple ways to reach out to those suffering from PTSD. One of the best things you can do it to be supportive. If someone you know has to visit their doctor, offer to do with them. Help them keep track of their medication and be there for moral support. When they don’t need to have therapy, do some physical activities together (like bike riding or a simple walk in the park). Exercise promotes both physical and mental health. Just make sure to know their triggers so you know what to avoid.

3. Get involved.

This is where you can put your own skills to the test. Are you a great listener? More often than not, veterans might just want someone to talk to. Medication and therapy aside, sometimes it’s nice to have some companionship after a traumatic event. Don’t be afraid to talk to your veterans. Thank them for their service and lend them an ear.

Love animals? Another way you can get involved is to volunteer for companion animal services. Some patients suffering from PTSD end up adopting therapy pets (usually a dog or cat). Therapy pets, unlike normal pets at the store or shelter, are already cleared for friendly temperaments. They’re typically relaxed and provide companionship to their owners. Check if you have any local locations offering volunteer handler positions.

4. Utilize social media.

Take a moment to assess how aware you are. Do you realize that crowds, loud noises, or surprises can all be possible triggers for someone with PTSD? How about dense fog? That was my Grandfather's PTSD Trigger from WWII & it still affected him in 2010. Triggers are specific to the individual experience & can't always be avoided; but, if you know or suspect, please show all due respect. Example: If your neighbor who once served avoids firework shows, then show respect by not firing them near his/her home. He/She probably stays home, away from the rockets & booms, to feel safe. #PTSDAwareness #Stop22 #ShowRespect #BeAware #GiveSpace #CareMore #NotAllPainIsPhysical #NotAllWoundsAreVisible #Sunrise #PatienceNeeded #NationalPTSDAwarenessDay

A post shared by Medea Carter (@medeabc) on

Even if you personally don’t know anyone that suffers from PTSD, that doesn’t mean you can’t show your support online. You can use #NationalPTSDAwarenessDay on social media. You can also follow official Facebook and Twitter pages for up-to-date information on PTSD treatments.

5. Provide helpful resources.

PTSD: National Center for PTSD
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Therapy Dogs United
Finding a Therapist

If someone you love is suffering from PTSD, be sure to stay supportive and get them help. It’s important that they learn coping mechanisms and treatment options from a trained professional.

    A writer by day and a reader by night, and if you say the words "free" and "food" together I'm there.