A Veteran. A Naples Resident. Plagued by PTSD years before he even served

by Jessica Liria, M.S.,
Prevention and Education Manager

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event and causes symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. When most people hear about PTSD, they think of a veteran experiencing it after returning home from the military.

In the case of 44-year-old Veteran and Naples resident Alex Kane, however, PTSD first affected him when he was just a child and he continued to suffer from it through his teenage years and military service.

At 10 years old, Alex’s family was living in Lima, Peru, where his father was working as a DEA agent. Members of a drug cartel bombed a car in front of their home. No one was killed, but the blast rocked the house and blew out all the windows.

The frightening incident prompted the rest of Alex’s family to move back to the U.S. for safety, while his father stayed in Peru. Over the next two years, Alex was separated from his father and missed him terribly. Plus, the trauma of the bombing in Lima lingered on in his mind.

“I was dealing with anxiety,” says Alex, “and I had a lot of nightmares.”

At age 13, Alex drank beer for the first time, and he liked how it “numbed things.” By the time he was in college, he was drinking heavily. Still, he earned a degree.

Alex spent five years in the Navy as an officer and received an honorable discharge. Yet, during this time, his drinking continued to spin out of control. Over the next decade, he fell into a cycle of rehab and relapse, and he violated the law several times. Eventually, his probation officer urged him to seek care at David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC).

A Diagnosis, and Clarity

Once in treatment at DLC, Alex was diagnosed with PTSD. Suddenly, the cause of his many years of suffering became clear. The DLC staff ’s care and compassion impressed Alex as he went through the Crossroads residential rehabilitation program and then moved into sober living.

But it wasn’t long before old patterns reemerged. Rememberinghis positive experience at DLC, he returned, this time with a renewed commitment. Alex’s counselor recommended a sober living home with Warrior Homes of Collier (WHC). He also completed Home Base Florida’s Resilient Warrior program, a six-session educational Mindbody course that helps veterans and service members manage stress more effectively.

Today, Alex is finishing a master’s program in counseling so he can help others experiencing similar challenges. He says the combination of services he received at DLC made a big impact.

“Being around people who give you hope, that’s big. They put me in a place where I was able to get my life back together to where I am now.”

Veterans Centered Care

Alex is just one of many who have been helped by DLC’s Veterans Services Program. During the last fiscal year, DLC provided 9,177 services to veterans.

The program serves those suffering from behavioral health issues, including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and co-occurring substance use challenges. DLC also partners with local organizations like WHC and Home Base Florida that specialize in outreach. The Mission of WHC is to assist with the needs of veterans and their families, focusing on housing, mental health, and education. HomeBase Florida partners with DLC to offer outpatient care for veterans, service members, and their families. Several DLC clinicians have also received extensive training in evidence-based treatment for PTSD from Home Base’s clinical experts from Massachusetts General Hospital, the nation’s leading Psychiatry Department.

Healing an invisible war within

On average, an alarming 17.5 veterans die by suicide per day in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ 2023 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report. A few signs a veteran is suffering from mental health issues include trouble sleeping, difficulty maintaining relationships or a job, challenges with emotional regulation, or losing a sense of purpose.

However, it may not always be evident that a veteran is struggling. Externally, for example, they could appear successful in taking care of their family, their business, or focusing on education—when internally, they are in distress.

That’s why it’s critical to check in on the veterans in your life, and their family members. Ask how they are. Ask about the resources they are engaging in, and whether they have heard of DLC. You may just help heal an invisible war within.

If you are interested in DLC’s Veterans Services Program, visit DLCenters.org or call (239) 455-8500 for further assessment.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.