To help build awareness around National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Day, we sat down with Sergio Cortes, Cognosante’s Marketplace Services Desk Supervisor, to gather his thoughts on the effects of PTSD—a mental health issue that may develop in those who have experienced traumatic events. Cortes joined the Army National Guard when he was 17 years old, working as a multichannel transmission systems operator dealing with satellite communications and setting up phones and workstations for soldiers to communicate with one another and their loved ones back home. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: June 27th is PTSD awareness day. Why is PTSD awareness so important?
Cortes: PTSD awareness is important because it affects people in separate ways. You do not need to be in a combat situation to get PTSD. It can happen to anyone.
Q: In your own words, what is PTSD?
Cortes: PTSD is a mental disorder that brings the victim back to whatever traumatic event they encountered. It takes your worst fear and puts it on repeat.
Q: How has PTSD impacted you, or those around you?
Cortes: I grew up with my grandfather having PTSD from the Vietnam War. Being around it at such an early age has made me want to do as much as I can to help those afflicted.
Q: What do you think about the availability of mental health resources for Veterans?
Cortes: I think that what is currently available for mental health resources is not enough. I would love to spearhead a new initiative to help drive change, not only in the military/government sector but also in the private sector.
Q: What more could we do for our returning soldiers?
Cortes: Provide more support groups. It’s a huge transition to return to civilian life after serving overseas.
Q: What are some of the challenges that Veterans seeking or needing help with PTSD face?
Cortes: Health program wait times. There is a backlog of patients waiting to speak to someone, and getting approval to have services paid for or discounted can be challenging.
Q: What advice would you give to those close to someone suffering from PTSD?
Cortes: I would encourage them to continue to seek help, and I wouldn’t stop there. Actions speak louder than words. I would reassure them that they or their family members can reach out to me at any point in time, day or night. PTSD doesn’t only affect the individual living with it—it affects their loved ones as well.
Q: How can our society better help Veterans suffering from PTSD?
Cortes: Become more open, accepting, and sympathetic to the issue. Saying things like “deal with it,” “give it time,” or “it will get better” doesn’t help and can negatively affect those experiencing any type of mental health disorder.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Cortes: Mental health is something that everyone should be aware of. Make sure you take the time to not only find ways to relax physically but mentally as well. Speak up! It’s okay to not be okay. If you see someone who needs help, reach that hand out, and guide them to the resources that they need.
Additional information regarding PTSD and Cognosante’s efforts in improving the lives of Veterans can be found here. We can all play a part in helping those affected by PTSD through support and understanding. Cognosante is dedicated to helping spread public awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and sharing the knowledge that it can be treated effectively. The early recognition of symptoms is important, and encouraging those suffering to seek help in a supportive manner is meaningful. It is through spreading the word about PTSD and its treatments and letting people know that they are not alone, that we can make a difference for the individuals, families, and communities affected.