Guiding veterans ‘over the hump’ of PTSD


The Youngstown State University Metro College and the YSU Counseling Program will collaborate with the Eastern Ohio Area Health Education Veterans Mental Health Center to sponsor a continuing education program on the subject of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans returning from combat.

Edgardo Padin-Rivera, a Vietnam War Army combat veteran and the Chief of Psychology Services at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, has been helping veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder for 18 years.

During the “Coming Home: PTSD and the Healthcare of Veterans After Combat” event, Padin-Rivera will provide participants and local healthcare professionals with information to help recognize and prevent mental illness in veterans.

“We try to look at returning combat veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq transition back to civilian life,” Padin-Rivera said. “About 500,000 vets are coming home from war and communities need to be prepared for this.”

The reintegration process into civilian life has become a speedy process – offering treatment in a variety of new electronic forms that work well with a patient’s new schedule such as a smartphone app called “PTSD Coach.”

However, some vets may still have trouble even admitting they may have PTSD symptoms and are not getting the help they need.

“There’s a stigma regarding mental health issues but it’s a pretty normal thing for everyone. Some get stuck but only need counseling to get over the hump,” Padin-Rivera said.

Noreen Moderalli, center director at Eastern Ohio AHEC, said that the event would aim to enhance participants’ understandings of PTSD causes and symptoms.

“We are trying to get across the message that mental illness is a medical illness,” Moderallie said. “So many men that come back after serving have a hard time coming forth and admitting that.”

Although he admits that the YSU Office of Veterans Affairs has a big challenge ahead, Padin-Rivera believes that YSU is making significant progress with the help it provides to student veterans.

“I’d really love to see the work YSU does at other universities,” Padin-Rivera said. Alicia Shaw, an assistant at the YSU Office of Veterans Affairs, said it was difficult for other vets to adapt to a much more lenient schedule and believes support groups such as these are very important to help vets get back into the swing of things.

“All of a sudden, everything changes. You have to motivate yourself and adjust to working much less,” Shaw said. “Having community support and knowing that you’re not alone will be the driving force to open people up about their issues.”

The event will be held at Antone’s Banquet Center on Market Street in Boardman on Feb. 20 from 5-8 p.m. Dinner will be provided. Registration is $50 and students can register for $20.