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On PTSD Awareness Day, Colorado vet encourages others to seek help, if needed

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Posted at 1:11 PM, Jun 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-27 19:51:03-04

DENVER -- On National PTSD Awareness Day, one Colorado vet is encouraging others to seek help, if it's needed.

Joe Reagan served mutiple tours in Afghanistan is the early 2000's. Now his mission is getting vets, like himself, access to services they could benefit from.

When it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder, Reagan said it can triggered by the simplest thing.

"A lot of it is the smells," he said. "Smelling something like the dust, or being able to think back into this, like I said, the smells that existed in the compound that we were staying in."

For him, one particular memory always comes to mind.

"It was early in the morning, it was around Halloween. I was actually sitting near with my platoon sergeant behind my truck when a suicide bomber walked into our compound and detonated himself," said Reagan. "The only thing that really saved most of us was, at the last moment, there was an Afghan guard that grabbed him. That was what kept most of us from being severely wounded or killed."

Reagan is far from the only veteran who experiences PTSD. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that somewhere between 10-15% of vets have a clinical diagnosis for post-traumatic stress.

"Post-traumatic stress is that past trying to work its way into wherever you are in the present," said Reagan.

So now, he's trying to help those who might not be diagnosed. He specifically wants to help vets recognize when there's a change that could be brought on by PTSD.

"Those subtle signs can be anything from an extra drink or two at night or problem sleeping, anger issues that kind of sneak up on you unexpectedly. It's those types of small things that you can easily dismiss, but also are usually the signs that there's something happening underneath that can be addressed," he said.

For Reagan, trying to get rid of the thoughts brought on PTSD, has made all the difference.

"It requires Just a quick reminder of 'nope, nope, that's not where I am anymore. I'm here and I'm good and continue to move forward with the day,'" he said.

He encourages anyone in need of help to reach out to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255, if ever needed.