ST. GEORGE, Utah - Counselors at the St. George Vet Center are praising police for being sensitive to the mental health of the suspect in a standoff Tuesday morning.
Readjustment counselor Bruce Solomon says Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may have played into the situation. According the Department of Veteran Affairs, an estimated 15 percent of military veterans suffer from PTSD. Solomon says PTSD can make it difficult for veterans to deal with conflict, and police did a good job taking into consideration 59-year-old Guy Fotheringham’s mental health history.
“They operated not from ‘this guy wants to kill people,’ says Solomon. “They operated from ‘this guy has some problems and we’ve got to find a way to solve it.'”
Solomon says often veterans go years without being diagnosed. That was the case for Iraqi war veteran Samuel New. New says it took a long time to admit to himself that Army service had changed him.
“I was unaware of, kind of what I was getting myself into having been gone for several years from the states,” says New. “I tried to have conversations and end up getting angry real easily, raising my voice and frightening people away.”
New says he felt alone and it wasn’t until someone reached out to him, that he was able to get help for PTSD. Veterans say the resources are there, but they need help connecting with them. New believes the best thing loved ones can do is be there for them.
“Sometimes people are just having a hard time and they feel alone,” says New. “Sometimes they just need a friend, someone to say 'Hi, how are you doing, can I help you in any way.'”
Community resources like veteran’s court are available to help vets who have had minor crime. Solomon says Fotheringham will be evaluated for the program, although the requirements are strict.
For additional resources on PTSD, visit the VA website: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/family/index.asp