Veterans with PTSD face tough time dealing with COVID stress

The pandemic has caused many of us to be exposed to extreme mental and emotional stress, but for military veterans already suffering from PTSD, it could be worse.

HOUSTON — The pandemic has caused many of us to be exposed to extreme mental and emotional stress, but for military veterans already suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, it can be even worse.

Former Staff Sgt. Marilyn Harris was a U.S. Army nurse in Operation Desert Shield 30 years ago. She saw a lot.

“Body parts, charbroiled people, dead people,” Harris said. “Those images are part of the architecture of my brain. I have post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Since her service, Harris has been through a lot, including years of therapy provided by the veterans’ assistance organization Easter Seals.

“I started with just one counseling, now we’re doing three,” Harris said.

Harris says the COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressor for all of us, but even more so for vets.

“This is a very challenging time for everyone especially for veterans, who have seen some very ugly thing,” Harris said.

To keep herself grounded, the veteran, mother and entrepreneur says she finds ways to stay connected.

Through Easter Seals, she’s able to talk through her problems, engage in guided meditations and even practice yoga.

“Those services are invaluable to me,” Harris said. “I haven’t missed a beat. I’ve been able to do other things in my life to stay grounded and keep focused.”

Her message to others like her is simple, “Ask for help.”

“To vets who are trying to deal with it on their own,  stop it,” Harris said.

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