Veterans talk about mental issues that can linger for decades after discharge

Veterans and those who treat veterans were talking about mental health at Philadelphia City Hall Thursday. They’re hoping the discussion will get help to more of those who served.

Thousands of vets in the Philadelphia area suffer from mental illness, some dating back decades. Army veteran Robert Fisher of Fishtown says his illness came because he did not serve in Vietnam.

“When it was time for me to go away, I opted out because I didn’t have enough time to fulfill my commitment as a commissioned officer,” Fisher explained. “I had a buddy who was waiting with me who went and he lost an arm and leg in Vietnam.”

Fisher says he felt guilty for decades until he got treatment.

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Dr. David Oslin of the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia says treatment is available for veterans who need it, especially for those suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’re fortunate that, in our region, we have a large number of providers specifically trained in PTSD treatment and psychotherapy, which is the leading treatment for PTSD,” Oslin said.

Oslin says he hopes that hearing others talk openly about it will encourage vets to come forward and ask for help.

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