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Dave Roepke, Published July 01 2009

North Dakota American Legion’s PTSD ad campaign to grow

Jim Deremo was tired of the calls.

The department services officer for North Dakota American Legion heard too often from family of clients who attempted suicide.

“It just really bothered me, tugged at my heart,” Deremo said.

So he started an American Legion campaign to encourage veterans to seek help for post-traumatic stress disorder. The media blitz featuring images of actual veterans, called “Courage Carries On,” kicked off this winter.

On Tuesday the Legion announced it will expand the campaign nationwide, offering it to every Legion organization in the U.S.

Carroll Quam, past state commander of the North Dakota American Legion, said heads of other state Legion groups have told him they’d like to pick up “Courage Carries On.”

“There is an interest out there,” Quam said.

The promotions push for veterans who may have PTSD, an anxiety disorder than occurs after a traumatic event, to call either a state mental health hot line at 211 or a national suicide hot line at (800) 273-8255.

“The main thing we’re trying to do is save lives,” Deremo said.

There’s still a stigma that stifles frank talk about mental health, Deremo said, especially in the Midwest and the military.

“We need to get past that. We need to forget that warrior mentality,” he said.

Post-traumatic anxiety has always struck some soldiers after they got home, Deremo said, though “it may have gone by different names,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that up to one in five Iraq War veterans have had PTSD – a higher frequency than any military action since Vietnam’s 30 percent.

PTSD

Here are some signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Jim Deremo, the department services officer for the North Dakota American Legion:


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535