The prosecution of former Marine Eddie Ray Routh in the shooting deaths of famed Navy Seal Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield has rested. Routh is accused of killing the two men at a gun range in Texas. Kyle and Littlefield were attempting to help Routh deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The case has brought attention to the continuing issue of PTSD and the need for care and treatment for veterans.
“I think it is a huge issue,” said Calvin Tucker, director of Dryhootch Madison, an organization that offers peer support to veterans.
“PTSD is rightly called the invisible war,” Tucker said. “Some of the statistics that I’ve heard is it is believed 30 to 40 percent of all veterans post deployment have PTSD.”
One reason organizations like Dryhootch are effective in helping is because veterans find it easier to open up to someone who has been where they have been.
“Talking to someone who’s walked the walk is of utmost importance,” Tucker said.
“I could get angry for days, angry at everything and not able to control thoughts or emotions,” said Joshua Ruer, a U.S. Army veteran who served two years in Bosnia. “I started getting really angry and started recognizing symptoms of PTSD and sought help.”
Ruer got treatment at the VA Hospital and in the last three months has been visiting Dryhootch Madison. He said the programs have helped him and his family a great deal.
Because of Routh’s diagnosis of PTSD, Ruer has watched the case with interest.
“I’m going to keep a closer eye on it now that it is going to trial,” Ruer said. “The whole thing in Texas. It should have been categorized as a PTSD illness, and it should have been seen. Somebody should have seen it before anything happened like that.”
Tucker said getting treatment is important for veterans dealing with PTSD.
“If not treated, it destroys a life,” Tucker said.
He said, however, that violence directed toward others is not the norm.
“I know the majority of the veterans that I’m associated with, the danger is to themselves,” Tucker said.
It is estimated that up to 50 percent of veterans with PTSD do not seek help. Tucker, who dealt with PTSD from his experience in Vietnam, said getting help can make all the difference.
“More importantly, the programs work,” Tucker said.