Rethinking PTSD in response to recent tragedies

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On May 17th, 11-year-old Josue Flores was stabbed to death. The murder suspect is Andre Jackson, a Marine veteran who had reportedly been exploring PTSD treatment. Then, two weeks later, a man went on a shooting rampage on Memorial Drive. That suspect was Dionisio Garza, whose family believes he may have had PTSD after his Afghanistan tours.

However, mental health advocates want to separate the thinking that someone with PTSD will harm people around them.

“Is it possible they had PTSD? Most definitely. Probably had some other mental health issues in addition to that that might have been more inclined to lead to an act of violence,” said David Maulsby, the executive director of the PTSD Foundation of America.

According to the foundation, PTSD more often leads to suicides than murders.

“Post-traumatic stress in our veterans leads to a self-destructive behavior rather than an outward behavior of destruction. That leads to 22 suicides a day in our country, not homicides,” said Maulsby.

“I didn't want to have that label – ‘you have PTSD,’ so I never looked for why I was angry all the time, anxious, depressed,” said Rob Dunson.

For Rob Dunson, a 27-year-old Marine Corp. veteran, his PTSD started in Afghanistan, when he lost a fellow marine.

“Just seeing his body in the back of the truck…. so blaming myself a lot…because every two weeks we would switch and go out and blaming myself or maybe I missed something when I dropped him off,” said Dunson.

When Dunson returned to the U.S., he repressed his guilt, and it emerged in dangerous ways.

“I had a DWI suicide attempt. I was drinking at the time, had gotten into an argument with my girl and just my thought process wasn’t there. I blamed myself for a lot of stuff,” said Dunson.

Now, Dunson lives at Camp Hope, an interim support home for vets with PTSD, and encourages those with PTSD symptoms to seek help.

“There is hope, and it's more than just a cliche. It's true, and we have plenty of vets around here who will be glad to share with you that,” said Maulsby.

If you are a veteran or you know a veteran who may be suffering from PTSD, the city of Houston does free resources and private help. A good place to start is the PTSD Foundation of America: