KOLD 13 TV Tucson, AZ News

Fisher embraces a former Viet Cong soldier on a recent trip to Vietnam. Source: John Wesley Fisher

Fisher embraces a former Viet Cong soldier on a recent trip to Vietnam. Source: John Wesley Fisher

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) –Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like combat, assault, or disaster.Unfortunately, it’s a condition that can ravage our nation’s veterans and lead to dysfunctional lives, alcoholism, and suicide. What’s even more tragic is the shame some might feel keeping so many from getting help they need and deserve.

As of September 2014, according to a major study done by the RAND Corporation, there are about 2.7 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars battling PTSD. That’s compared to 2.6 million Vietnam veterans who fought in Vietnam and 8.2 million “Vietnam Era Veterans” (personnel who served anywhere during any time of the Vietnam War).

Author, Vietnam veteran, and PTSD expert, John Wesley Fisher fought in Vietnam during the 1968 offensive campaigns. He served on the front lines and brought home the wounds that couldn’t be seen. Nearly 35 years after making back from his tour, Fisher says he “began to unload his backpack filled with the sorrows of war, by way of novel writing.”

Fisher is on a modern day mission to help his fellow veterans deal with PTSD, “so often, PTSD is treated up here (pointing his head) and of course those symptoms need to be regulated and dealt with but really PTSD is right here (putting his hand on his heart). It’s all about identity crisis and whether or not we can recreated a new identity after we lost our old one in the war.”

Although Fisher’s area of expertise is with combat-related PTSD, he’s quick to point out you don’t have to be veteran to know what it’s like to have a difficult time dealing with trauma and its aftermath, “PTSD is actually a new diagnosis in the medical field started in 1980 for the Vietnam veteran but anybody can have PTSD and really it’s all about recreating who you are now after you’ve experienced some trauma.”

After writing his first novel, Angels in Vietnam, Fisher began researching other natural methods for post-war reconciliation. Fisher says some of his most profound discoveries were observed in the most unlikely place—Vietnam, “to my surprise, the Vietnamese welcomed me and I realized that my former adversaries weren’t experiencing the post-war ramifications that I did.”

Fisher will have a PTSD forum at the Pima Community College Veteran Center on the downtown campus from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM on Thursday April 9. He will also have a book signing at the east side Bookman’s at 6230 E. Speedway from 4:00PM to 6:00PM on Friday April 10.

Copyright 2015 Tucson News Now. All Rights Reserved

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