'Often people with PTSD don't even recognize that's what's wrong'

'Often people with PTSD don't even recognize that's what's wrong'
Sgt. Mark Miranda, a public affairs specialist stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, demonstrates the use of a program that is designed to help calm symptoms of PTSD and traumatic brain injury. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

FORT HOOD, Texas - The latest massacre on a military installation underscores the need for mental health care for veterans.

One in 5 service members come home with PTSD, and doctors say you don't have to have served on the front lines to be affected.

People in non-combat roles like cooks and secretaries can be just as traumatized by what they've seen in war.

But doctors say we only really talk about PTSD during a huge tragedy, like what happened at Fort Hood.

That stigma may make it hard for veterans to come forward for help.

And the disorder affects everyone in different ways.

"Often people with PTSD don't even recognize that's what's wrong with them," said Dr. Harry Croft, a psychiatrist who specializes in combat PTSD.

Croft said he's worked with countless veterans.

"I stopped counting at 7,000," he said.

Croft said it's rare the disorder manifests itself in the type of mass shooting violence like Wednesday's shooting at Fort Hood.

"Hurting someone else is very, very rare," he said.

It's far more common - although no less tragic - for veterans with PTSD to inflict pain on themselves.

PTSD can lead to substance abuse or suicide. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that every day, 22 veterans take their own lives.

"Without treatment, rarely does this condition get better," Croft said.

Croft said that if you need help, the VA is the best place to start. He warns, though, that there's no quick fix for PTSD.

"Treatment isn't as simple as it sounds," he said. Treatment could take months - or a lifetime.

"It kind of depends on if the veteran or military member accepts the need for treatment," he said.

If you need help right now, call the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.