Raising awareness of PTSD in the stateline

National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Day on June 27 recognizes the effects PTSD has on the lives of those living with it.
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - According to the American Psychiatric Association, roughly one in eleven people will live with PTSD in their lifetime. On National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Day, local leaders say there are avenues of support in the area, so no one has to fight the disorder alone.

“I twitch from time to time because of issues in my head,” said Veterans Drop In Center Executive Director Eric Willard.

Eric Willard was only nineteen years old when he served in the battle fields of Vietnam during the war. But the battle he’s faced since returning home, is one he still fights to this day.

“The biggest issue for me was constant fear, constant fear intersected with boredom,” said Willard. “Incoming rounds can come in from anywhere at any time, and the first one is the first one that’s going to get you because you don’t hear it until it’s too late.”

Willard was diagnosed with PTSD six years ago. Now, as executive director of the Veteran’s Drop In Center in Rockford, he strives to help other veterans who live with PTSD. But for many veterans like Willard’s cousin, the trauma is simply too much to bear.

“Of all days, on mothers day, he choose to end his life,” said Willard. “Because all of his stresses and demons he had in his head.”

Willard isn’t the only one whose lost their loved one to suicide, as a result of PTSD. Brad Lindmark’s brother, Greg, took his own life after thirty years on the police force.

“He had seen so much, he went to every murder, every homicide,” said Lindmark, “He was there.”

Lindmark says his brother was one of the countless first responders who copes with horrific incidents on a daily basis. That’s why he and his family created the Greg Lindmark foundation, to help those first responders, navigate how to deal with the trauma they face after.

“Anyone that sees a crime, a horrific car accident, everyone is susceptible to PTSD,” said Lindmark. “You throw the first responders in who are seeing this stuff day in and day out, it has to affect them. And that’s what our foundation tried to help. We have to protect our first responders, not go after them.”

Both Lindmark and Willard say their organizations show that help is out there, no matter where the trauma came from.

“My personality, if I can say that, was severly altered by PTSD,” said Willard. “And I went my whole life without knowing that.”

Lindmark says the Greg Lindmark Foundation offers free and confidential counseling, to any first responder in hopes of reducing the impact of the day in and day out stress. Willard says the Veteran Drop In Center can help any veteran cope with their past, and get back on their feet.

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