SAN ANTONIO - The holidays generally mean family togetherness and happy moments, but for many of our country's veterans living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, that joy can be easily overshadowed.
- Veterans with PTSD can struggle during holidays
- Fireworks, crowds, and memories can serve as triggers
- Veteran support is available 24/7
San Antonio has one of the largest veteran populations in the country with more than 150,000 veterans.
Chances are, inside of friendship circles, offices, and daily life, people often know someone who could be having a tough time around the holidays.
Clinicians say the time in between Christmas and New Years can be lonely.
"Even though it's fun, holidays you're with family, for the veterans here [during] holidays is large crowds, lots of noises, a lot of sensitive questions that they don't want to answer, and it can also mean they have friends who are not here anymore due to maybe death by combat and they're not with their families. So it brings back a lot of bad memories," Laillah Guice with the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors, said.
She said this time of year can set off a lot of triggers because of fireworks, crowds, and memories.
Cohen also said it's important for friends and family members of a veteran with PTSD to ask how they can help and be supportive.
For veterans she said it's important to let people help, to have a plan, and be ready to change up traditions.
For veterans who don't have anyone to spend the holidays with, Guice suggested finding a place to volunteer.
"Know that this could be a very hard time for them. So just to be very conscious about how you're asking them questions and just take into consideration that although this maybe a fun time for a lot of people, but for the veteran with PTSD, maybe not," Guice said.
If you need help the veterans crisis line is available 24/7.