Change is Coming to PTSD Group in Tulare

November 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Medical and psychological help to American military veterans is more evident these days than ever before. However, a change to a post traumatic stress group in Tulare is raising serious concern among its members.Every man in here is a veteran of either Vietnam, Iraq or Korea. They all have one thing in common besides living in Tulare; they suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

Korean veteran Ralph Arbitelle said, "I came very close to killing my first wife and equally close to killing my second wife."

Vietnam veteran John Navarrette said, "You sit down with your family and you try to talk or your brothers and your friends ... they don't understand."

They all said talking about their issues with other veterans helps them cope, but this method of therapy is about to end.

Vietnam veteran Gene Sustaita said, "I flip. If it wasn't for the group, I'd be worse."

"Not one of us I think has ever said anything about the war, we don't know how to deal with life," said Vietnam veteran John Cortez.

The veterans in Tulare suffering from post traumatic stress meet here every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for their group sessions. But that is going to change in December. The V.A. says it has new, proven methods for treating P.T.S.D.

"We want to try to treat as many people as we can. This will allow us to do that. And to treat them more effectively," said P.T.S.D. program director for the V.A. Joe Arve.

Arve has asked the veterans of Tulare to forego group sessions for one month to assess their needs. After that therapy will be modeled based on the individual's needs.

Arve said, "These are all evidence based therapies. So we're trying to go away from a general support model to models that, actually, through science have been validated."

But these veterans claim their method of therapy works.

"No cookie cutter program is going to replace these groups," said Navarrette.

Arbitelle said, "For the first time in my life I'm able to talk about what happened to me overseas."

Wednesday these men will gather after the Veterans Day parade in Fresno to protest these new therapeutic methods. And they're hoping the V.A. will listen.



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