PTSD

Richard Brewer, a former Marine, combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient, came to give a talk last Monday evening in the Webb Marshall Room about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its effects on today’s veterans. The focus of his talk was to explain the struggles that war veterans with PTSD face every day to re-adjust once they return home, as they continually battle suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, and alcoholism. Mr. Brewer told the audience about struggle and how he eventually started an organization called One Warrior One with the intent of educating the general public on the causes and effects of the disorder.

In 1983, Mr. Brewer was serving a tour with the assignment to protect the American Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon when a suicide truck carrying two thousand pounds of explosives crashed into the building. Sixty three people were killed, including seventeen Americans, and despite lacerations, burns, and a broken arm, Mr. Brewer continued recovering the wounded. Mr. Brewer finally lost consciousness and had to be rushed away to a nearby hospital to treat his wounds. His heroic actions notably earned him the Purple Heart Award, along with many other medals.

Once back home, Mr. Brewer struggled with his haunting memories of the war so much that he almost gave in to his suicidal thoughts. And yet, building upon the leadership he had already proved on the battlefield, Mr. Brewer founded the organization One Warrior Won in 2009 in order to teach the public about PTSD and to help veterans.

Mr. Brewer outlined the human brain in order to teach students about how the “survival brain” is switched on in order to survive in the traumatic conditions of war. Even after a return to the normal society, this “survival brain” continues to act upon the reflex mechanisms that the soldier depended upon to survive, thus leading to a marginalization in society as “mentally unstable.”

And it was this notion of mental instability that Mr. Brewer also sought to dispel in his talk, saying that today’s mainstream media mistakenly labels the very veterans that fought for the U.S. as “crazy” when in fact PTSD is just another combat injury. Instead of ignoring the pain and suffering of millions of veterans in our country, One Warrior Won seeks to change public opinion so that PTSD may finally be recognized as a grave issue that plagues our returning combatants.

These soldiers fought for our freedom – why not show our recognition and fight for their well-being?

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