VA: ‘Coronavirus pandemic could worsen PTSD symptoms’

Pandemic's effect on veterans

U.S. — The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says those living with PTSD may have stronger stress reactions than normal, due to concerns stemming from COVID-19 pandemic.

Local retired Marine, Mike Drafts, told Action News Jax the fear and stress many Americans are feeling due to the coronavirus pandemic, are nothing new for veterans living with PTSD.

Drafts was an anti-tank missileman in the 1990’s, and saw combat during the Albanian Rebellion. He now serves as the Warrior Relations Manager at K9s for Warriors.

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“With the social distancing of America, it kind of gives everybody kind of an idea what a veteran who has PTSD kind of goes through on a daily basis," Drafts said.

K9s for Warriors CEO, and Jacksonville City Councilman, Rory Diamond says veterans who suffer from PTSD are more likely to commit suicide.

As a result of the change in lifestyles amid the pandemic, Diamond tells us they’re reaching out to the more than 600 veterans in their organization as often as possible.

Diamond is also the founder of the “The Fire Watch,” a local five county coalition including Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Baker and Nassau counties, dedicated to ending veteran suicide locally.

The Fire Watch provides immediate resources online to veterans who may be in crisis. There are also resources on its mobile app titled “The Fire Watch.” Online and on the app, veterans can find immediate assistance and volunteer to stand watch, by assisting other veterans who may be in crisis.

Veterans may also dial 2-1-1 and speak with the Mission United staff about being connected to local resources.

The VA lists a host of recommendations for those who may be feeling more intense PTSD symptoms to employ during the pandemic: