For many veterans, memories of their wartime experiences can still be upsetting long after they served in combat.
If you are an older veteran, you may have served many years ago, but your military experience can still affect your life today. Here are some ways that past military experience can affect you as you get older.
PTSD symptoms later in life
Many older veterans find they have PTSD symptoms even 50 or more years after their wartime experience. Some symptoms of PTSD include having nightmares or feeling like you are reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, being easily startled, and loss of interest in activities. There are a number of reasons why symptoms of PTSD may increase with age:
• Having retired from work may make your symptoms feel worse, because you have more time to think and fewer things to distract you from your memories.
• Having medical problems and feeling like you are not as strong as you used to be also can increase symptoms.
• You may find that bad news on the television and scenes from current wars bring back bad memories.
• You may have tried in the past to cope with stress by using alcohol or other substances. Then if you stop drinking late in life, without another, healthier way of coping, this can make PTSD symptoms seem worse.
PTSD symptoms can occur soon after a traumatic experience, but this is not always the case. Here are some common symptom patterns:
• Some veterans begin to have PTSD symptoms soon after they return from war. These symptoms may last until older age.
• Other veterans don’t have PTSD symptoms until later in life.
• For some veterans, PTSD symptoms can be high right after their war experience, go down over the years, and then worsen again later in life.
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198, and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays, call Harriet Mulnix, (505) 793-1782.
Durango VA Clinic
The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave. Durango, CO 81301 (the old Mercy Medical Center). Phone number is 247-2214.
For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.