Seniors Invite Veterans to CJ to Talk About PTSD

Seniors who have close connections to military members or first responders organized a presentation, by bringing in veterans to talk to the CJ community about PTSD.

The Senior Capstone group of Zachary Braun, Orion Coyle, Connor Trick and Paul Wittmann each had different reasons behind their pursuit to spread awareness about PTSD.

“I became interested in the topic of PTSD because my father was a soldier in the Army during the end of the Cold War,” Coyle said. “He operated in a tank during combat. In addition, my uncles were in the Navy and my grandpa served in the Navy during Vietnam on the swift boats.”

“It bothered me that men and women risk their lives defending our nation and don't receive adequate support upon arriving back home,” Trick added.

When deciding what to do for their project, Braun said, “We were looking at different ways to raise awareness for this issue, and we decided it would be best if students heard about it from people who were directly impacted.”

“I contacted my brother, Ben Trick ‘10, who works at the VA hospital in Dayton,” Trick continued. “My brother was able to get me in contact with Dr. Kristin Rodzinka, PTSD program manager at the VA, who was kind enough to provide us with three Vietnam veterans who were willing to talk to our students.”

Last month, the veterans came to CJ and talked to students during their homeroom. 

“The veterans described what PTSD is like for them, and gave the students perspective on different ways someone could suffer from this mental ailment,” Braun said.

“The veterans discussed how PTSD can affect you, how it can affect a community, and the ways in which you can be exposed to traumatic stress,” Coyle shared. “They talked a lot on how to reach out to people who might be affected by PTSD and how you can make a difference in their lives.”

Trick added, “The main theme the veterans focused on was that PTSD can be acquired by anyone who witnesses a traumatic event. The veterans also talked about how one of the best treatments for PTSD is social acceptance. Upon returning back from the Vietnam War, they were not well received by all members of the public. The veterans explained that without this social acceptance, they were forced to isolate themselves, thus making their PTSD more severe. The men also explained that while they had PTSD they were afraid to talk to anyone about their problems as they were afraid of being seen as an annoyance. The men said that by just going up to a veteran and talking to them or thanking them for their service truly means a lot to them.”

“We feel it was important to raise awareness for this issue because understanding the trials and tribulations of being a veteran brings a new dynamic to the respect we have for the veterans of our armed forces.” Braun concluded.

In addition to having the veterans talk to CJ students, the group went to St. Albert and St. Peter grade schools to collect support letters to veterans at the VA.

When reflecting on their overall project, Coyle said, “We gave students a real, genuine look at what PTSD can do to a person, and hopefully that sparked some interest in the subject and made them realize ways they can help someone who is suffering.”

Posted March 1, 2018