Climb for PTSD is a 501c3 charity that helps veterans, first responders and anyone who is dealing with the debilitating symptoms of PTSD. The symptoms are many and can include a mix of anxiety, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, anger control and avoidance. At any given time, roughly 20% of veterans and 7% of the general population are dealing with the effects of PTSD. The combination of multiple symptoms is difficult to handle and can lead to alcoholism, substance abuse, job loss, and homelessness. Our efforts are centered around the goal of increasing the employment rate of veterans with PTSD, decreasing homelessness and substance abuse. We help our clients learn how to manage their symptoms and develop a new sense of self-worth, new outlook and purpose in their lives. Our current program has been successful and we have helped hundreds of individuals better deal with their PTSD.
A more worrisome byproduct of PTSD is suicide, especially veteran suicides. The most recent data, compiled by the National Vital Statistics System indicates that the ten-year rate of suicides from 1999-2010 that males are more likely to commit suicide at 19.4/100,000 vs 4.9/100,000 females. Their data also points to a suicide rate that is almost doubled in veterans at 38.3/100,000 by men and 12.8/100,000 for women. A study that analyzed data from the National Comorbidity Survey, which provides a nationally representative sample, did show that only PTSD unlike the other 5 types of anxiety diagnosis has a direct association with increased thoughts of suicide and attempts at suicide. Thankfully there are effective trauma based therapies which include Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy. A recent study of female rape victims who were randomly selected for either CPT or PET found that a reduction in symptoms correlated with a reduction in suicidal thoughts and ideations. Following the Prolonged Exposure Therapy the reduction in suicidal thoughts remained at a reduced rate over a 5-10 year period. The patients who underwent the CPT program realized even better results.
While the number of veterans and others that we have helped is comforting, there are still many people in need of service. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in the 12 Congressional District for Illinois, there are 64,554 veterans. A New York Times study showed that 20% of veterans suffer from PTSD. An internal study by the VA shows that of that 15% of those veterans with mental health disorders are unemployed. This means there are close to 13,000 veterans with PTSD in the Southern Illinois area alone with close to 2,000 unemployed. Other research estimates that at any given time, 7% of the population at large is dealing with the symptoms of PTSD. With a population of over 660,000 in the 12th Congressional District, there can be around 45,400 individuals dealing with PTSD at any given time.
The anxiety and depression symptoms associated with PTSD can keep thousands of those individuals without the strength or confidence to leave their homes. Getting this critical information to those suffering with PTSD is time intensive and costly. Additionally, many veterans and other individuals with PTSD feel as if they don’t deserve help. Hear Nick, an Airforce veteran during one of our awareness climbs who said, “I have my arms and legs and am otherwise healthy, so I don’t deserve help”.
Everyone deserves help and spreading the message is imperative to fighting stigma and treating the debilitating effects of PTSD.
To achieve this, we perform awareness climbs, speaking engagements, outreach programs and other events, including a mobile rock climbing wall. It is disheartening to think that there are some individuals with PTSD who are suicidal yet fail to be treated because they feel help isn’t deserved. At the very least, they need to know that there are programs where they can get help. Contributing to our awareness climbs and other events will help encourage more individuals to come forward and seek medical care. Without spreading awareness and encouragement from others who waited and suffered needlessly, how many will be left behind due to stigma and feelings of unworthiness? Prior to climbing, we briefly interview the veterans who volunteer to be carried, so that they can share their stories about the struggles of finding help and the progress they made when they finally did. Sharing these stories through social media and other forms of outreach has helped to, and will continue to encourage others to come forward.
It is critical for those suffering from PTSD to come forward and get the assistance they need. Spreading awareness is a crucial step in making this happen. Please consider joining our mission by donating financially and helping those in need to find solace in their lives.
Thank you so much for your generous donations!
Proud, Tough, Strong and Determined with you,
Founder, Climb for PTSD Inc.
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