Veteran’s Outreach Center: ‘PTSD isn’t a life sentence’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — June is National PTSD Awareness Month.

The Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester has been around for about 50 years.

The nonprofit acts as a “one-stop shop” for veterans who need support.

“When you come back from that and you’re not in that environment anymore and you’re still hypervigilant and you’re still waking up constantly throughout the night at every little sound and you’re still scanning your environment for threat, that doesn’t work so well,” Executive Director for the Veteran’s Outreach Center Laura Heltz said.

Every year — nearly 200 veterans come here to get support. Many are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder — or PTSD. 

“PTSD isn’t a life sentence. There are ways that people can get therapy and support that help them manage those symptoms, so that they can feel like they can live a healthy, productive, socially engaging life again,” Heltz said.

PTSD is something that the staff deal with often.

“The training that many service members have had is stuff it down, don’t deal with it, move forward,” Heltz said.

To deal with the symptoms — some service members try to self-medicate or even take it further.

“Unfortunately the veteran population is twice as likely as the nonveteran population to commit suicide or to attempt suicide,” Heltz said.

The center has wellness and social programs including peer support, group therapy and even a fitness center.

“You can come in, you can be who you are. You’ve had your experiences and guess what, most of the other people who are here have had the same experience or something at least in a very similar vein,” Heltz said.

You can find the link to the Veteran’s Outreach Center here.

If you need to talk to someone now, you can call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or visit their website here.