Veterans Program Hosted

The Impact of PTSD on Relationships

February 16, 2016


Veterans, their significant others, family members and those who work with veterans are invited to a very special program hosted by Penn Highlands Healthcare.

A Veterans Health Program will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 17, in the Central Resource Center of Penn Highlands DuBois, 204 Hospital Ave., DuBois.

Free to attend, this program will discuss the impact of PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder – on veterans and their relationships.

The presentation will start with a free pizza buffet donated by the DuBois Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 813 for those attending and a presentation by Gale Shay of the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center Outpatient Clinic in DuBois and Lt. Col. Gene Samanka, U.S. Army retired, of DuBois, who will talk about his personal PTSD experiences.

“This program was designed to help veterans understand the resources available to them in the area - where they can get the help they need,” Samanka said. “Most don't know what's out there nor do they know how to get into the VA system for care. Many times they just need a place where they can go to have a caring person listen to them.”

“I'm in the VA system. I'm a combat Veteran who has had issues dealing with trying to adjust to civilian life and dealing with people who have no clue what it's like dealing with our experiences,” Samanka said.

“I've learned who to go through to get into the system and get my disabilities addressed and receive compensation, and the help I needed to function properly,” he said.

“Many sit back and say that nobody cares. Nobody will help. I'm speaking to tell them how to get this help,” he said. Samanka is a trained counselor and behavior support specialist, and is now an adjunct professor at Butler County Community College in Brockway teaching psychology and sociology. He is also on the board of directors at the DuBois VFW Post 813 whose Veteran Service Officer is out and about helping veterans, too.

“DuBois is blessed with having resources for veterans,” Samanka said. “This type of program will need to be done over and over because our veteran population continues to grow and will continue until the wars end.”

What is PTSD?

PTSD has been around with every war since the Civil War when soldiers were treated for being physically and mentally wounded. In World War I, it was shell shock. Today, the stresses of war leave similar scars on the mind.

Those with PTSD have flashbacks. They are reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating. They have bad dreams and frightening thoughts.
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine, according to the National Institutes of Health. The symptoms can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.
A person with PTSD may:
• Stay away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience;
• Feel emotionally numb;
• Feel strong guilt, depression or worry;
• Lose interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past;
• Have trouble remembering the dangerous event.
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. These symptoms can make the person feel alienated or detached from friends or family members.
They may also:
• Be easily startled;
• Feel tense or “on edge;”
• Have difficulty sleeping;
• Have angry outbursts.
These symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. These symptoms can make the person feel stressed and angry. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating or concentrating.
Samanka encourages anyone who served in the military, in combat or not in combat, and their spouses or significant others to attend. Also, he added, all local mental health professionals should attend. “We need to show support to our veterans so they see and are assured of the help they can get,” he said.

The program Wednesday is co-sponsored by Penn Highlands Healthcare and Service Access and Management Inc., a part of Community Connections of Clearfield/Jefferson Counties. Several organizations will have information tables at this event. Dress is casual.

To RSVP, call 375-3428 or e-mail cjcarnahan@phhealthcare.org.