ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV)— Dozens of Veterans and their families attended the 2018 Veterans Forum, "Uncommon Heroes, Common Virtues." Those in attendance were honored for their service and learned about the importance of identifying and treating PTSD. They also celebrated the Marine Corps’ 243rd Birthday.
10News asked veterans about the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks.
Many of them woke up to the news and were surprised to find that the shooter was one of their own.
“He was a Marine, right?” San Diego County Supervisor, Bill Horn said.
Horn is a proud Vietnam War Veteran, a Marine, who experienced many hardships overseas.
“I did go through 14 years of nightmares," Horn said.
He admitted that the idea of PTSD did not exist when he returned stateside.
“You say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine,’ which you’re really not,” Horn said.
10News is learning that the bar shooter was a 28-year-old Marine Corps Veteran, who may have suffered from PTSD. A mental health team came to his home in April. But close friends said his outbursts continued.
Navy Veteran Dr. Lu Le, a psychiatrist with experience in Cognitive Processing Therapy, was one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 Veterans Forum. He said perhaps the most challenging part about PTSD is admitting you have it.
“It’s a sign of acknowledging one’s vulnerability, and it’s hard to come to that realization,” Dr. Le said.
Dr. Le said one of the most successful ways to get Veterans to open up about PTSD is to share experiences. Support is key.
HOW TO HELP OTHERS
If you are a Veteran who received therapy for PTSD, suggest the same. Explain how it is helping you, and how you believe they too would benefit from it. If you are a civilian, find a common motivator, like family, to guide them through the pain. Start a conversation such as, “I hear that you are struggling and you want to be present for your children. I encourage you to explore these options with these programs.”
Dr. Le said that though there is no one answer for PTSD, opening up will most likely improve the quality of their life.
“It’s in the therapy that one begins to understand 'It is not my fault, it is the best I could have done in that situation,’” Dr. Le said.
One of the takeaway messages for Veterans from today’s event is, good or bad, ‘You are not alone.’
"I can relate to somebody having that trauma,” Horn said. “They don't need to be ignored. They really need to have a sincere, eye to eye. heart to heart intervention."
25-year Marine Corps Veteran, Sergeant Major Mario Fields is also a Motivational speaker. The keynote speaker said that the brother and sisterhood of the military will never leave you hanging.
“You’re not alone. Don’t let one event, one moment define you because we’re not perfect, and we never will be,” Fields said.
“Admitting one’s vulnerability is a step toward recovery. And to acknowledge that ‘I have something to give, and that I am worthwhile, and that I am not alone.’ That’s the key thing,” Dr. Le said.