PTSD | St. Louis Public Radio

PTSD

Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander dropped out of the Kansas City, Missouri, mayoral race on Tuesday, saying in a post on his campaign website that he needs to focus on his mental health due to PTSD.

Joshua Eckhoff, 33, of Ballwin suffered a traumatic brain injury while clearing roadside bombs in Iraq. January 2018 photo
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Joshua Eckhoff of Ballwin smiled as he described posing for pictures at his college graduation in December — and how proud his mother was. Earning that degree is the latest achievement for the Army veteran who suffered a brain injury in Iraq 10 years ago that no one thought he could survive.

On Feb. 6, 2008, as Eckhoff led a convoy searching for roadside bombs, an improvised explosive device pierced the armored vehicle he was riding in and smashed into the right side of his head. His injury was so severe that the Army notified his mother that he had died in combat.

“I call that my ‘alive day,’ ’’ said Eckhoff, 33. “The anniversary of my injury every year, we celebrate it like a birthday.”

Matt Palozola greets friends at a fundraiser for the Zola Initiative, a nonprofit he started in honor of his brother. Dec. 15, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Tom Palozola arrived at Webster University after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he struggled to fit in with his younger classmates. But he found solace in in the Student Veterans Organization.

As its president, Palozola worked tirelessly to acquire a grant to open a campus veterans center. He envisioned it as a refuge for veterans who also felt like campus outsiders.  

Palozola had suffered a traumatic brain injury when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and died by suicide last May.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In August, 9-year-old Jamyla Bolden was fatally shot in north St. Louis County while doing homework in her mother’s bedroom. She was a student at Koch Elementary, part of the Riverview Gardens School District, where school administrators have been working to bring hope to the students coping with the loss of their classmate.

A line of police face off with protesters on West Florissant Ave., last Sunday night.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Fearing for your safety or that of your family; witnessing violence; and the repeated, chronic stress of a traumatic event’s aftermath can all leave mental and emotional scars. Mental health professionals caution that last year's events in Ferguson have likely placed people at risk for developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

With the hopes that they can help people work through their trauma, researchers from the University of Missouri-St. Louis are trying measure the scope of PTSD in the region, triggered by the Ferguson protests.

A U.S. military helicopter in Afghanistan arrives to assist a medical evacuation.
Octavian Adam | U.S. Navy

In October 2011, large transport planes flew three mobile MRI machines into two U.S. military bases in southern Afghanistan with a mission: find the source of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by studying the brains of soldiers in combat.

The machines were installed in military trailers, fortified from the dust and steep temperature swings of the desert outside. The delicate imaging equipment was insulated from outdoor vibrations, sound and electromagnetic rays.

Child therapist Anita Blackwell (right) attends a workshop for Emotional Emancipation Circles on December 6, 2014 at Harris Stowe University.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

“My soul is grieving. Our collective soul is grieving,” Dr. Cheryl Tawede Grills said as she opened her training session for psychologists establishing therapy groups in a post-Ferguson world.  

The groups are called Emotional Emancipation Circles, or EEC’s, and they’re conducted in a specific way: create a safe space for people to talk about the racism they experience. Validate that experience. And give participants emotional tools to go forward.

Regina Greer of the United Way Coaches volunteers at the new community resource drop-in center at the Dellwood Community Center on August 21.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

In the past two weeks, residents in Ferguson have seen familiar businesses broken into and looted, heard gunshots at night and had to drive through police checkpoints to enter their neighborhoods. Some say their trust of law enforcement has been deeply shaken since the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 7, 2011 - Time has turned out to be the best therapy for many who were traumatized by the sight of jetliners crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York during a terrorist attack a decade ago, mental health experts say.

Iraq War vet celebrates progress over PTSD

Aug 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 15, 2008 - For Iraq War veteran Brad Seitz, the color purple symbolizes five years of life after near-death.

Purple balloons will direct guests to a party this weekend noting the fifth anniversary of the day he earned a Purple Heart in service to his country. He will hang out with family and friends at the bowling alley in the recreation center of the Jefferson Barracks VA Medical Center. Refreshments will include a Purple Heart cake, compliments of the VA.