It is estimated that 8 percent of Americans (that’s 24.4 million people) have PTSD at any given time. To give you a better idea of how many that is, it would equal the entire population of Texas. It has been known by many names in the past, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II, and involves having disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after their service has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. Those with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
One of the speakers was Mike Waldron, who served in the Marine Corps, obtained a business degree and went on to manage U.S. Courthouses and Federal Buildings. Roughly 5 years after combat Mike fell into severe symptoms of PTSD. His anxiety and panic attacks, night terrors, isolation, and depression lasted for half a decade until he stumbled upon a return path to hope and happiness through particular physical activities and socialization. He dove into research to learn why this worked for him, and why it’s so effective with military members and combat veterans. Mike returned to college at Purdue University to grow his skills in entrepreneurship so he could help other suffering veterans find their path to hope and happiness. In 2015 Mike left behind his career to launch 23rd Veteran, under which he lead the development of a reconditioning playbook that is intentionally and effectively retraining brains to create strong social relationships, reduce the negative effects of common “triggers”, and increase happiness in our veterans and civilians. You can read more about Mike’s organization at www.23rdveteran.org
There were also some incredibly sweet canines at the event as well! PetsLoyal2Vets is a community based organization connecting US Military Veterans with trained emotional support and service dogs to veterans at no cost. It is beautiful to see how these animals love on the veterans and give them so much! To learn more about their organization you can see their website at www.petsloyal2vets.org. Both Josh and Mike had their sweet companions with them and it was truly beautiful to see the relationship they had between each other.