Veterans Affairs educates campus on mental illness

Military and Veterans Alliance is in the process of making campus more friendly to those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

PTSD is a mental health condition that some may encounter after experiencing a life threatening event. Some symptoms of PTSD include having flashbacks to the event, avoiding situations similar to the event and feelings of anxiety and depression, according to

They are hoping to start implementing these programs by February 2017.

Twenty-two people suffering from PTSD die each day due to the pain they have to live with, said Michelle Dailey, Veterans Affairs coordinator.

President of Military and Veterans Alliance Kandi Pike said that Veterans Affairs is trying to get mandatory PTSD training for students and faculty.

“It will help them understand what PTSD is as well as how to handle the situation,” Pike said.

Dailey said in her eight months in Veterans Affairs she has had six students come to her to talk about problems with PTSD.

Those who suffer from PTSD have benefited from having a group of individuals going through the same thing that they can talk to, Dailey said.

The group meets on the 22nd of every month in honor of the 22 people a day who die because of PTSD. But if members need to talk about coping with the mental illness, they can always talk with Pike, she said.

“They get to see that we can deal with it but still live a normal life,” Dailey said.

Freshman Harley Miller said it is a great thing having an area where those who suffer from PTSD can come and vent.

“It’s not good just to sit there and bottle things up,” Miller said. “Everyone needs someone that understands what they are going through.”

Veterans Affairs have had counselors from the Birmingham VA mental hospital come to help, Dailey said.

Pike said they currently have information about PTSD on their website for anyone who would like more information, but they are hoping to expand this.

“My advice would be if you see someone struggling, try and help,” Pike said. “When it comes to PTSD, everyone has different triggers.”

One of the common misconceptions is that every veteran suffers from PTSD, which is not true, Pike said.

“We’re not all damaged,” Pike said. “We don’t all have PTSD, but we are pretty much like family. If one of us struggles, we’ll all be right there to try and help them.”

Pike said there are various ways people cope with PTSD. Some see a therapist, and some get medication.

“When it comes to triggers, people just need support,” Pike said.

Pike said they hope to make the program open to the community in case there is anyone who knows someone who is suffers.

Pike said starting a program is difficult because of a stigma that comes with veterans and PTSD.

“It’s kind of like when you discuss sexual assault victims,” Pike said. “Not every one of them has PTSD, but it’s not unusual if they do. In a traumatic experience, it could happen to anyone.”

If students are struggling with PTSD, they can contact Counseling Services at 256-765-5215.