A closer look at PTSD

Updated: 04/03/2014 5:45 PM
Created: 04/03/2014 5:35 PM WHEC.com
By: Rebecca Fath

Three people were killed and sixteen others injured, including a 32-year-old soldier from western New York, at Fort Hood on Wednesday. 

Military officials say Army Specialist Ivan Lopez bought the gun used in the attack on March 1. He got it from the same gun shop as the shooter convicted in the 2009 rampage at Fort Hood. As for a motive, investigators say there is a strong possibility that Lopez was arguing with one or more soldiers before the shooting. But, at this point, officials say there is no indication, he was targeting specific people when he opened fire. He later took his own life.

Military officials say Lopez's unstable mental health is believed to be an underlying cause of the attack. He spent four months in Iraq in 2011, but, officials say he didn't see any combat. He was reportedly being treated for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Local psychologist Dr. Santo Bentivegna treats veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Dr. Santo Bentivegna said, “These young men look very fit, very healthy, but they're plagued with dreams and they're plagued with flashbacks. The person has lived through some sort of traumatic event which they're not totally able to process."

In many cases, veterans suffer anxiety and re-occurring nightmares. 

Dr. Bentivegna said, “These are people who are trained to control emotions and control violence, but it is a violent job.”

It is a violent job that can bring on psychological trauma. Bentivegna says PTSD is diagnosed by asking patients specific questions to find out exactly what kind of trauma took place, then treating the problem through therapy.

Todd Baxter, Veterans Outreach Center, said, "We provide everything from educational vocational training to counseling for stress to housing, both temporary and emergency housing for vets."

The Veterans Outreach Center is a one stop shop to help veterans re-adjust. Executive director and veteran Todd Baxter knows it is tough for many veterans to get back into a normal lifestyle.

Baxter said, “You come back and you've given all that service and you come back and there's no one around. There's no one that can speak your speak, there's no one who's experienced your experiences and it's a very lonely feeling."

It is a lonely feeling that can be overcome.

Dr. Bentivegna said, "With the right kind of treatment and the right kind of support, there's a lot of hope."

The staff at the Veterans Outreach Center will help get veterans the services they need. For more information, click here.

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