New program offering different approach to helping veterans - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New program offering different approach to helping veterans with PTSD

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Colonel Michael Abell with the Kentucky National Guard, understands what many veterans experience as they return home from war.

"We're changed. Some of us grew. Most of us did not," says Col. Michael Abell.

He says in many cases, veterans are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and experience nightmares, depression, and memories of war.

Many are afraid to come forward for help.

"Just last week I had somebody on my staff in here crying, needing to talk to someone but they're of enough rank that they're embarrassed to go get treatment," says Col. Michael Abell.

Stories like that are one of many reasons the Kentucky National Guard is teaming up with the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs, and the University of Louisville.

An $80,000 grant by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs is making a new counseling program possible for combat veteran.

"We've put together a veterans treatment program at U of L. It's really focused on treating particularly PTSD and depression in veterans with the National Guard," says Dr. Eric Russ, a Psychologist on the Veterans Treatment Team.  

Colonel Abell says some combat veterans facing these issues turn to the VA for help, sometimes not getting it as quickly as they'd like.

In other cases, veterans experiencing PTSD can be medicated too quickly.

This program aims to change that with therapy based on talking, rather than medication.

"Which we know is really effective, particularly for PTSD, depression, the other kinds of issues veterans tend to present with," says Dr. Eric Russ.

"They're going to look at whether or not they're medicated, or is it too much medication, should they have any medication? And, oh by the way, since it is at U of L it reduces the stigma of going to a military facility, so more people will use it," says Col. Michael Abell.

They're hoping with this new program, it's not only a new place to turn for veterans, but also a step in the right direction.

"If you do something about it we're talking 3 or 4 months in our program to really make a huge difference in the rest of your life," says Dr. Eric Russ.

This upcoming Monday, Dr. Eric Russ says he'll begin treating their first veteran.

As of right now, the grant is only for a year. During that time they hope to work with about 50 veterans.

Although the Kentucky National Guard is joining forces to make this program possible, it is open to all combat veterans, and not just veterans with the Kentucky National Guard.

If you are a combat veteran in need, or know of a veteran who can benefit from the program, contact Capt. Stephanie Fields at Stephanie.k.fields.mil@mail.mil or (502) 607-1046.

Troops requesting to make confidential appointments can contact Dr. Eric Russ at (502)-813-6631.

The point of contact for Kentucky National Guard veteran referrals and appointments is Ms. Billie Jacobs. She can be reached at billie.jacobs.mil@mail.mil or (502) 607-2067.

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