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PTSD: Let your Airmen talk, you listen

Patrick AFB, Fla. -- As you may have heard, the Veterans Affairs Department has recently streamlined its claim process and made it easier for veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder to get the help they need.

This is good news for all who have worn the uniform, as well as their families and friends.

There are some who think that if servicemembers were not actually involved in direct combat action, they can't be suffering from the effects of PTSD. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For the past couple years, we (the 45th Space Wing) have been averaging more than 100 Airmen a month who were - and currently are - deployed in harm's way, most of whom are either in Iraq or Afghanistan. Our mission partners are experiencing similar deployment tempos.

Many of our deployers are on their second or even third tour of duty. It's not easy duty.
Some could be suffering from things we don't know about, and issues they may not want to talk about.

It's important that we talk with our fellow Airmen.

Talk with them before they leave, keep in touch with them while they're deployed, and - most importantly - sit down with them when they come home. Listen more than you talk. Actively "hear" what they have to say.

There is no shame, none whatsoever, in letting someone know you are hurting and need someone to give you a hand. And this doesn't just apply to people who were deployed. It applies to everyone who serves our nation - military, civilians, and contractors alike.

If anything, it shows strength of character to be able to ask for help and get the assistance we are only too happy to provide.

Earlier this week, President Obama said "America will always be here for our veterans, just as they've been there for us. We won't let them down. We take care of our own, and as long as I'm Commander in Chief, that's what we're going to keep doing."

We agree 100 percent. The 45th Space Wing has a proud heritage of taking care of its own. Let's make sure we're there for each other like true Wingmen.

Please talk with your fellow Airmen. Look them in the eye and ask if they're OK.

Thanks for all you do.