El Paso, TX (KDBC) — One in five soldiers returning home fro war has post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. It's a troubling statistic and one that's caught the attention of many in the Borderland. About 40 of those suffering from PTSD here in El Paso are finding solidarity and comfort by talking about their experiences with those who have also experienced the realities of war which is evident in the daily lives of the veterans' that we spoke with on Wednesday.
Some show the signs through their hands, "Anxiety is one of the biggest things I have issues with, personally," Jaime Livingston, a Navy veteran, told us. You can also hear the anxiety in their voices like "Johnathan" who is a former Marine. "Johnathan" did not want to give us his real name or show his face but he did say he suffers from PTSD who used to be a sweet kid and now, "just loses himself to drinking," he explained.
Everyone we spoke with has similar issues. From self-medicating to difficulty sleeping. But all, have found solace through a peer-to-peer program aiming to help veterans cope with PTSD.
The Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN), through Emergence Health Networks, is a state funded program. The network trains former military personnel to become mentors to their peers.
"I've got friends to call, I got people to call, anytime in the day or night and that really helps to know that," Livingston said. She uses crafts to cope, other use fitness. "Instead of thinking of having my little drug or something... my daily fix is lifting," "Johnathan said.
Although war has changed each and everyone of them, the program has helped one veteran accept himself unconditionally. "What I am is today is a functioning person... who I am is... just deployments different parts of the world just molded me, changed me, developed me into who I am," Jimmy Stewart, a military veteran who served during Desert Storm told us.
You can contact MVPN at (915) 915-319-3811. The program is free and confidential.