SAN ANTONIO - – Coming off of National PTSD Awareness Month, a San Antonio Marine Corps and Army veteran has spent time sharing his story with others in need.
He said now, with mass troops returning from a difficult end to the war in Afghanistan, adjusting to civilian life is even harder.
Jonathan Shane Krebs spent four years as an Army paratrooper and seven and a half as a Marine, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I went through four IEDs, two suicide bombers and a partially-open parachute, so I ended up diagnosed with six traumatic brain injuries,” Krebs said.
He was eventually medically retired and diagnosed with severe PTSD.
“Back in the day, if you had severe PTSD and you came forward with issues, a lot of guys I know got booted out of the Army, and since then a lot of those guys have committed suicide. So that was a stigma for us,” Krebs said.
He said the fear kept him from speaking up, and it did him a major disservice.
With a push from his wife, he finally reached out for help and is now well into his recovery, working now as a trainer with K9′s for Warriors. He helps train veterans with their new therapy dogs all over the country.
He said over a decade ago, around 2010, he saw a big shift in the military’s focus on PTSD and mental health, but the stigma still exists.
“I still don’t think people are getting the help they need. Part of that is the individual that still believes, ‘Mentally I don’t need the help. I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong with me.’ And part of that is the VA system. Like when I got out in 2012 and I went for my PTSD treatment with the VA, it was a six-month wait to see a doctor,” he said.
That’s where organizations like Mission Roll Call come in. They assist veterans in crisis but also advocate on Capitol Hill for issues like suicide and access to care.
Mission Roll Call Executive Director Cole Lyle said he almost became a suicide statistic.
“Had a fellow Marine not intervened, I wouldn’t be here. We speak directly to our membership through regular interviews, polls, and town halls across the United States. Combined with empirical data, we use these stories to produce striking detailed images of issues affecting our community,” Lyle said.
Mission Roll Call recently polled its 1.4 million veteran members and found that 71% believe the recent Taliban advance through Afghanistan was a reason for personal reflection and sadness.
“For me, it just pissed me off,” Krebs said. “I spent a lot more time sitting around drinking beer and being angry, but you gotta find a positive outlet, like talking with the doctors, talking with my wife, talking with fellow veterans, just venting and getting it off your chest is what helps you through the situation,” he said.
To the veterans who are ready for help, he said to start at the VA.
Get your name on the waitlist for a doctor, and in the meantime head to one of their discussion or support groups.
He said to be open with your military friends and lean on them, and also suggested joining a local VFW post and getting a service dog.