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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lexington VA Hospital's One-of-a-Kind PTSD Program

As the VA struggles to find the resources it needs to deliver top notch care to our returning veterans, some programs rise to the challenge. Lexington, KY's VA Hospital offers a unique residential rehabilition program to help local veterans coping with PTSD.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From WTVQ Action News (ABC-Channel 36):

The medical community admits it was slow to recognize the debilitating condition, but continues to catch-up to try to help Veterans of all wars. Part of that progress is a one of a kind residential rehabilitation program at the V.A. Hospital on Leestown Road in Lexington. Group and individual therapy teaches coping skills, adjustment skills, anger management, relaxation and all the things needed to try to help the Veterans dimish their PTSD symptoms.

The Veterans we spoke to in the program said it's successful, effective and in some cases life saving. "I've tried to commit suicide twice," said Vietnam Veteran Paul Louallen of Lexington. Like countless other Veterans, Louallen suffered in silence for decades, not knowing what was wrong. He couldn't control his anger, nightmares and irrational thoughts. "I'd go days without sleeping. I was afraid to go to sleep," Louallen said. He couldn't hold down jobs, alienated friends and couldn't manage a successful personal relationship with anyone. He, like many Veterans suffering from PTSD, turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the emotional pain.

The veterans being treated in this important program include those who served in wars from Korea to Iraq. They are very satisfied with the treatment they're receiving.

The Clinic Coordinator for the program is V.A. Hospital Psychologist Bruce Nerenberg. "These Veterans can sit around in a circle because they feel that the other Veterans are watching their back, there's that kind of trust and they talk and share and realize that they're not alone," said Nerenberg. There are an untold number of Veterans who may not realize they're suffering from PTSD or refuse to get help because of the stigma of weakness that society attaches to the disorder. Program coordinator Nerenberg said the courageous aren't those who deny they have a problem, but rather those who get help.

Veterans may be referred to this program by their primary care physician or VA doctor. Call the Lexington VA Medical Center for more details at 859-281-3949.

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