Increased calls to Oregon partnership’s Military HelpLine - KPTV - FOX 12

Increased calls to Oregon Partnership’s military helpline

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

With more troops returning home from war, the need for help and resources continues to rise, according to experts.

Crisis workers at Oregon Partnership, a statewide non-profit for people in crisis, say their Military HelpLine experienced an increase in calls during December as service members returned from Iraq.

"We have many callers who are dealing with relationship conflicts with their spouses, with their family," said Josh Groesz, the director of Military Crisis Lines. He said they're also dealing with financial issues, unemployment and reintegration challenges.

Groesz, a veteran himself who served in Iraq with the Oregon Army National Guard, admits the transition back to civilian life can be a struggle.

"For me, I experienced loss," said Groesz. "I went from being a part of something that was bigger than myself, to coming home and losing that, almost like a loss of identity."

Groesz said educating himself through classes on PTSD offered by the V.A. as well as counseling helped him through the transition.

"These guys, when they come back, they want to talk to someone who understands," said David Dedrickson, an outreach manager at Oregon Partnership and army veteran himself.

"There's a lot of things that change when you come home," said Dedrickson, who said returning veterans may miss the structure, camaraderie and friends they've left behind.

Symptoms of post traumatic stress can range from quick anger to frustration or a desire to withdraw or isolate oneself, according to experts. The timeline of PTSD can vary as well.

Dedrickson said a number of calls received last month as troops returned from Iraq came from Vietnam veterans.

"They were experiencing flashbacks, PTS from when they were coming home," said Dedrickson. "It's not just a couple of months, couple of years; it can be as long as 40 or 50 years."

If ignored or untreated, PTSD can lead to substance abuse, problems with the law and even suicide.

"If it's gotten to them actually calling us on the phone and saying they feel suicidal, then we missed red flags, months, weeks, years ahead of time," said Dedrickson.

He urges friends, family or loved ones to call if they have any cause for concern. Oregon Partnership outreach managers say call takers are available to listen and guide veterans to help and resources.

"One can become stronger through trauma,"said Groesz, who's now helping other veterans embrace post-traumatic growth.

"If I survived combat, I can survive anything," said Groesz. "Although I may have come home with weaknesses and challenges, I also came home with many strengths."

Oregon Partnership has around 15 crisis workers who are also veterans. For help or more information, visit MilitaryHelpline.org or call (888) 457-4838 or (971) 230-5555.

The resource is open to all military service members and their families. Online chat is also available through the website.

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