11K local veterans with PTSD last year

11K local veterans with PTSD last year

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by Mark Hanrahan, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 4 at 5:53 AM

PORTLAND-- He helps veterans more 2,000 miles from Ft. Hood, but Thursday morning, Dr. David Greaves found himself trying to wrap his head around the tragedy at the sprawling army post in Texas.

“I mean, you worry about people’s state of mind,” Greaves said.

Dr. Greaves is the Chief of Psychology at the Portland Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

He treats veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

More: Argument may have preceded latest deadly Ft. Hood attack

“It affects people in different ways,” he said. “Some people describe just feeling a little bit off and just not quite themselves, while for others, it can be as severe as personality change or memory loss.”

Greaves pointed out that just because a person is diagnosed with PTSD does not mean they’ll turn violent.

More: Shootings at military bases over the years

Army officials on Thursday said the suspect in Wednesdays’ shooting at Ft. Hood in Texas, 34-year-old Ivan Lopez, had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems.

While he had not been diagnosed with PTSD, he had treatment for symptoms of the illness, officials said.

Numbers released by the PVAMC on Thursday show that thousands of Oregon veterans suffer from the PTSD.

In the last year, the PVAMC saw roughly 10,600 veterans with PTSD.

Not everybody gets help.

The numbers show that slightly over 7,100 sought treatment.

Portland Police Lt. Cliff Bacigalupi says many of those veterans end up on the streets.

“It’s something we see fairly regularly,” he said.

Bacigalupi leads the bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit, formed just last year.

“And, so you end up with self-medication issues or mental health issues or PTSD and ultimately we do have contact with soldiers coming back, and it’s heartbreaking,” Bacigalupi said.

But he said that the bureau is trained to help the mentally ill.

The Behavioral Health Unit will soon have 78 trained in enhanced crisis intervention.

Bacigalupi said the goal is to get help to people suffering from mental health.

Often, those people are veterans.

“I simply know that the veteran piece is definitely something that is at the forefront,” Bacigalupi said.

Multnomah County Mental Health Crisis Line can be reached at 503- 988-4888

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