Talking to family and friends about deployment, combat and post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the hardest things a veteran can do. The Tennessee State Council of Vietnam Veterans knows very well just how difficult it can be. That's why on Tuesday, Jan. 12 they held a "Victory Over PTSD" town hall meeting at the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center.
According to WCYB, a local news station, dozens of veterans and their families attended the meeting. Everything from PTSD indicators, coping methods, treatment providers and the high suicide rate among veterans was discussed openly and thoughtfully. There was a tone of encouragement and support among everyone present.
"We want you to live, we want you to succeed – we want you to have victory!" said Barry Rice, a Vietnam veteran and organizer of the town hall.
After his rotation to Vietnam was up, Rice returned to the states and served as a notification officer. Charged with the responsibility of informing spouses and parents that their husbands and sons had been killed took a significant toll on Rice, leading to a deep sense of survivor's guilt. Talking with fellow veterans about it helped Rice make it through.
Discussing the threat of PTSD – and ways of treating it – are arguably more important now than ever before.
"More American servicemembers, both veterans and active-duty, have committed suicide over the past decade – tragically it's 22-plus per day – than who made the supreme sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan combined," Rice said in a statement to The Greeneville Sun.
"Years ago, when called to duty, young men and women from across Tennessee answered. Now, as Vietnam veterans, we are answering the call for our brother and sister veterans, active-duty military and their families, to share our experiences with and recovery from PTSD, our strength and hope in their time of need," Rice continued.