Rhinelander VA Clinic Offers One-Of-A-Kind Peer Counseling for Vets With PTS

By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
By: Elizabeth Schilder Email

Every 84 minutes, a veteran commits suicide and unfortunately that number skyrockets during the holiday season. That's all because of what's known as Post Traumatic Stress.

PTS is a severe anxiety reaction that can develop as a result of psychological trauma.

Jim Rosin is a Vietnam veteran. He also served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

"There was good times and bad times like anything else. When I think back now and try to think back about what it was like in Vietnam, I try to think of the good things and not the bad things and it's funny because you just run out of good things real quick," Rosin told NewsChannel 7.

It's those bad things that have followed Rosin the last 46 years.

"We are very angry people. We've always been angry. We always will be angry. That was taught to us, brainwashed into us...We were trained to kill and we do not know how not to kill," Rosin explained.

Rosin's not alone. Many of our service men and women are living with Post Traumatic Stress. Some don't even know it yet.

"I got out in 70... in 80... in 68 and until 1984 I had no idea that I wasn't suppose to feel the way I did," Rosin said reflecting on the way he felt when he first returned home from his two year tour of duty in Vietnam.

Tim Bahr understands the feeling.

"Your worst nightmare could never scratch what we've see," Bahr said trying to describe the horror of war.

Bahr's been a Marine for over 41 years, serving in Vietnam, Desert Shield, Desert Storm and the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"After going through the VA's process of therapy groups and things of that nature, another Marine veteran saw that I was having some difficulty and he got me involved in a peer support program," Bahr recalled.

For Bahr, the program worked wonders and in August 2010 he began volunteering as a peer facilitator at the VA Clinic in Rhinelander. The only VA clinic in the nation to offer a peer led peer support recovery group.

"It's a group of veterans that get together and accept each other as they are on that particular day...I've told every veteran I work with that I go to the peer support recovery groups for me. I'm a participant... I'm not just a guy sitting there taking notes," Bahr said of his role as peer facilitator.

"We learn how we manage things. It's not about coping because coping is trying to fit into something. We're not trying to fit into anything. We're trying to live in society. The society that we left when we joined the military," and that, Bahr said, is why the group is so important.

What started as Bahr and one other veteran has blossomed into a group of 142 veterans. There are also two groups for veteran's spouses.

"We get to talk with fellow vets who've been through the same things we have. The greatest thing in the world is the healing that you never ever see anywhere else," Rosin said.

Bahr wants veterans to know that they're not alone.

"Post Traumatic Stress is a normal reaction to the abnormal situation we found ourselves in," Bahr said.

"I was getting worse and worse. Now I'm getting better and better... It's amazing what a few other veterans and all good people... how they can help," Rosin told NewsChannel 7.

As far as civilians are concerned, Bahr warns be careful what you say to our men and women in uniform.

"Don't ever say that 'I understand' because you don't. Unless you've been there, you can't understand... We don't want to have to re-live all the issues and try to talk about things you have no concept of," Bahr advised.

He adds that the most important things civilians can do is support veterans. Don't try to help them manage their PTS. If you want to know what it's like to live with PTS, Tim recommends reading "Tears Of A Warrior." And, if you see a vet, simply tell them welcome home and thank them for their service.

So to Jim, Tim and all our service men and women welcome home and thank you for serving!


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