Dealing with emotional and psychological prices paid by men who served in combat
San Luis Obispo – Thousands of American men in wars have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress, and it may take years for them to come to grips with the disorder – if they ever do, and if they don’t kill themselves rather than face what people with PTS suffer.
Because PTS is so prevalent, including among women who served in wars and witnessed traumatic effects of combat, and because suicide occurs so often, two young Morro Bay men, who served seven tours collectively with the Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan, are doing what they can about dealing with PTS and helping other veterans learn what they can do to help themselves.
The latest effort by Daniel Pitocco and Matt Reid is mainly aimed at helping combat veterans of all military services, and families of men and women with PTS. But anyone who wants to know more about PTS (also referred to as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is welcome to attend the upcoming event.
“MIND OVER MATTER: Supporting Veterans One Mile At A Time” is the Post Traumatic Stress Awareness and Suicide Prevention event. It will take place April 27 from 10 a.m. to noon at New Life Community Church, 990 James Way, Pismo Beach.
Why? As a posting on the Mind Over Matter website says:
Every 25 hours an active duty service member committed suicide in 2012. That’s 349 total. That’s across the services and doesn’t include 110 pending suicide deaths still being examined. That number also doesn’t include veterans no longer on active duty who are taking their own lives.
After both men had been trained in the SOI (School Of Infantry), Pitocco and Reid met in January 2005 at the Marine Corps training base in Twenty Nine Palms, where both men, both now 27, were trained as machine gunners, with weapons up to .50-caliber. Reid served eight years in the Marine Corps. Pitocco served four years. Both reached the rank of sergeant.
“I feel like I have a responsibility to other veterans, to help them continue on,” Reid said. “We need to stick together as much as possible. The suicide rate is unacceptable. We need to bring awareness to PTS and suicide. And fight to overcome it, any way possible.”
Marines in combat “live, breathe, eat together,” then go their separate ways as civilians, so “we lose cohesiveness,” Reid said. “We’d like to bring that cohesiveness back. And we hope to give understanding to what we shared, what we experienced.”
When they rejoined, one of the first things they did was put together the first Mind Over Matter event, a post-traumatic stress and suicide awareness event held on Veterans Day, November 11, last year. That event was held at FitnessWorks in Morro Bay, where Pitocco works as a fitness counselor. Participants raised money by getting pledges for the numbers of miles each turned out on exercise bicycles in the gym during a “spin-a-thon.”
As for the event April 27, the three main speakers will be Mike Young, team leader for the San Luis Obispo Vets Center; Patti Tackett, PsyD., a clinical psychologist for San Luis Obispo County Behavioral Health; Jan Capaccioli, a suicide prevention coordinator for the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration Clinic.
The VA operates a Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and online chatroom at www.veteranscrisisline.net 24 hours a day, every day.