War veterans share experiences with PTSD

HOUSTON - Flags are flying at half staff in Midlothian in honor of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was shot and killed. Over the weekend, police said a Marine war veteran shot and killed Kyle and another man at a north Texas gun range.

The group may have been at the range as part of recovery process from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

KPRC Local 2's Rachel McNeill spoke with two veterans living in Houston who are recovering from PTSD. Even though they served in wars that were decades apart, both men have similar stories with PTSD.

"I can't be around fireworks," said Iraq war veteran Zack Alexander. "The smell of diesel -- that will bring me back to where I was in Iraq."

Alexander served in Iraq and he's been home for a couple of years. However, it was only last year that Alexander hit bottom at a meth house and he called the PTSD Foundation of America for help.

"My daily routine was I would get up and look out the blinds to more or less check my perimeter," said Vietnam war veteran Ray Wodynsky.

Wodynsky sought treatment at the Houston VA hospital for PTSD 16 years ago.

"I had a friend who was concerned and took me up to the Vet Center," he said.

Alexander's recovery with PTSD took him to the PTSD Foundation of America's Camp Hope. It's interim housing and counseling for PTSD war veterans.

Both Alexander and Wodynsky are fathers who had failed marriages and difficulty holding down a steady job. But they're slowing recovering.

Dr. Karin Thompson, who is the head of the PTSD clinic at Houston's VA hospital, said PTSD is real for war veterans and civilians too.

"It's also something that can happen to people in car accidents, or a natural disaster or have an assault so it's not limited to the military," said Thompson.

As for what happened at the north Texas gun range, the director of operations for PTSD Foundation of America said to not just pin it on PTSD. Some other psychological factors could've been an issue.

"The PTSD causes them to believe they are hopeless and don't deserve to live," said David Maulsby, "That's why we have 22 suicides a day and not 22 mass murders a day."

Since going through treatment, Wodynsky has remarried and Alexander is engaged. Alexander is also holding down a steady construction job and training to be a firefighter.

Wodynsky volunteers at the VA hospital.

For more information on the PTSD Foundation of American and Camp Hope go to www.ptsdusa.org.

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