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Getting the help you need

Mental health providers from the 18th Medical Operations Squadron stand for a group photo in front of the Kadena Mental Health Clinic June 26, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Kadena Mental Health Clinic serves the mental health needs of more than 16,000 joint service beneficiaries, including U.S. military service members, veterans, and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

Mental health providers from the 18th Medical Operations Squadron stand for a group photo in front of the Kadena Mental Health Clinic June 26, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Kadena Mental Health Clinic serves the mental health needs of more than 16,000 joint service beneficiaries, including U.S. military service members, veterans, and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

Kadena Air Base, Japan -- Post-traumatic stress disorder might be considered by many a byproduct of war and participation in combat; however PTSD is not exclusive to military members, because it can affect civilians as well. Many people may not know it, but there is help readily available at Air Force hospitals and clinics dedicated to helping anybody.

According to the Anxiety and Depressions Association of America, it is normal to feel stressed and anxious after a traumatic event.
For example, a car accident may cause one to feel uneasy about driving for a while after an incident. For patients with PTSD, those feelings don’t go away with time, and seeking help early can help prevent symptoms progression.

“PTSD is not just a mental health condition,” said Capt. Erik Menjivar, 18th Medical Operations Squadron suicide prevention program manager. “It can be claimed as a disability and can also be something that physically affects their daily lives.”

According to Menjivar, PTSD can leave its sufferers feeling anxious, exhausted and depressed. They often relive the traumatic event in their mind and respond by finding ways to avoid situations that remind them of the traumatic event.

“It’s important to seek help,” Menjivar said. “The military has a lot of avenues to receive proper care and help for PTSD. You should never wait to seek help, it’s always readily available.”

Trained medical providers at Mental Health can help those with PTSD by using cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure, and eye movement desensitization reintegration.

“All three treatments are available here on Kadena depending on which therapist you see,” Menjivar said. “We want PTSD patients to come as soon as they can, because the longer they go without getting PTSD treated, the more engrained the behaviors, thoughts, and habits become, and it becomes much more difficult to treat.”

Air Force mental health providers are trained in evidence-based techniques to treat PTSD.

“At the mental health clinic, I work at ADAPT so we have dual-diagnosed patients,” said Airman 1st Class Sir Terrance Morgan, 18th MDOS mental health technician. “We do see patients that have potentially turned to alcohol to cope with their PTSD and we help them find the treatment they need.”

Members living with PTSD who turn to programs such as ADAPT, help not only themselves, but also others.

“PTSD affects not just the person with it, but also everyone in their lives,” Morgan said. “It affects both home and the workplace. If a person is suffering from PTSD, it will affect everyone in their unit, and their loved ones at home will feel it the most.”

Anyone can be susceptible to PTSD from a traumatic event such as being in combat while deployed or being in a car accident at home.

“PTSD affects a lot of people,” Menjivar said. “It affects the people they care about. Peers, supervisors, and even commanders can have PTSD that, if left untreated, can have impacts on our military community.”
Getting help can be as simple as talking to a health care provider, chaplain, supervisor or even just a friend.

“If you feel that you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD we can help,” said Morgan. “Help can be found from medical providers at the Mental Health Clinic, Military Family Life Counselors, or Behavioral Health Optimization Program.”

For more information on PTSD or to get help, contact the Kadena Mental Health Clinic at 098-960-4817 (select option two then option two) or 630-4817(select option two then option two).