Case worker, veteran discuss mental health issues

Jennings County’s efforts to understand and address mental health issues recently included a military veteran and suicide prevention case manager speaking at a community symposium to share information about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and similar disorders.

The two-hour event April 21 at the Jennings County Public Library was one of a series of local gatherings designed address mental health issues with patients, care givers and health care providers.

Author and veteran Carolyn Furdek and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs suicide prevention case manager Ashley Maynard addressed participants.

While the symposium was designed to concentrate on the effects of PTSD on returning military veterans, event organizer and recently retired Jennings County veteran services officer Mike Eastman said PTSD can affect anyone, which is why non-veterans were also invited.

“Trauma can and does happen to anyone, and we want to give the tools that can help ease the effects of trauma to those suffering, regardless of who they are,” Eastman said.

Furdek spoke first, recounting her decade-long struggle with the mental scars she incurred during three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. A medically retired Army officer, she wrote the book, “Locked in: A Soldier and Civilian’s Struggle with Invisible Wounds.” She detailed her sudden and unforeseen experience with PTSD during her military service, her hospitalizations and treatment following her release from active duty, and the symptoms that plagued her repeatedly for years after her return to civilian life.

“I tell my story to help others understand what is happening to them,” Furdek said.

Furdek frequently speaks to veterans organizations and groups.

Maynard described many ways that veterans and their families could contact the the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to receive help with the effects of PTSD and other mental health issues.

A member of the Suicide Prevention Team at Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, Maynard explained that as mental health issues have increased as thousands of veterans have returned from recent deployments, the VA has expanded mental health care.

“I think it is helping because the national suicide rate as dropped from 22 a day to 20 a day, and that is a step in the right direction,” Maynard said.

Help for veterans

Here are some resources for veterans in need of mental health care:

Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indianapolis: 317-554-0000, On the website go to the mental health section.

Suicide Prevention Team at Roudebush VA Medical Center: Ashley Maynard, suicide prevention case manager, 317-988-4327; Travis Field, 317-988-3213

Veterans Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255, ext. 1, available to veterans at any time, whether for an immediate crisis or just someone to listen.

“Coaching into Care,” a new VA mental heath service designed for the family and friends of veterans in need of help, 1-888-823-7458. The service is free and provided by psychologists and social workers to help find appropriate services in local communities.