6 Spotlight on Service: UT helping vets deal with PTSD

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As troops in the Middle East and southwest Asia are coming back stateside, civilian life can be a struggle.

In this post-war world, PTSD can play a large role.

PTSD stands for Post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event, according to the Mayo Clinic.

UT helping veterans adjust

PTSD is a terrifying experience you file away, and your brain keeps replying that vivid memory on repeat.  Now, the University of Tennessee is working to make the transition to civilian life easier, with or without the disorder.

An associate professor of social work at the UT College of Social Work, Camille Hall, conducts mental evaluations for those vets returning to college.

“When people go to war, when they come back they don’t always want to talk about their experiences,” she says.

Hall served in the Army and now brings her experience to the university.  She works specifically with “cognitive processing therapy,” or prolonged exposure.  It essentially exposes a veteran to a certain traumatic thought so their brain is desensitized to it, creating new neuropathways.

Veterans Resource Center offers help 

To also ease the transition, the veterans’ resource center on campus gives military men and women a chance to keep that bond and camaraderie.  Thomas Cruise entered UT as a student as a 21-year-old Air Force vet.

He helps coordinate events and training at the center to help faculty staff and students with how to treat potential PTSD situations with students.

Cruise recounts his own situations saying, “things come up for civilians and they come up fast.”  He helps ease the tension.

Hall says she had a student who used to look for IEDs in the war.  When he came to campus, his intuition was to constantly look for IEDs around campus, even though he knew in the back of his mind there weren’t any.

Hall also recounts learning from a student that large, loud crowds can be intimidating and challenging. 

So as the quiet battle lingers with our veterans, the University of Tennessee is doing what it can to make the transitions to college as easy as possible.

How to connect

The Veterans’ Resource Center on campus is located on the web at veterans.utk.edu and can be reached at (865) 974-5420.

It’s located in G020 Hodges Library, 1015 Volunteer Blvd. Knoxville, TN 37996

The center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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