New option for veterans and first responders dealing with PTSD

Published: Feb. 13, 2015 at 3:24 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 13, 2015 at 12:23 PM CST
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An increasing number of first responders and local veterans are showing signs of post traumatic stress disorder. But now the Pavilion is offering a new option when it comes to coping with it.

On Thursday, the new Uniformed Services Unit officially opened. The 16 bed unit will work specifically with first responders and local veterans dealing with PTSD.

"Over the years we have found that people who work with law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical, any kind of occupation where they have to face danger or disturbing events fit in well with that population," Program Manager Lonny Eaves said.

In response to growing violence around the country and abroad the Pavilion is working to address a growing need.  

"It's just one more specialized service that maybe take away some of the stigma of asking for help. That's what we hope. They can come here and get treated and get back into life with their friends and their families," said Mark Crawford, the CEO of Northwest Texas Health Systems. 

As an air force veteran, Crawford and Captain Martin Birkenfeld who has been with the police force for more than 20 years know the damage a  devastating scene can leave in the minds of those who work to protect us.

"There are paramedics, firefighters and police officers who can benefit from these services as well. When one of those persons is in crisis they are no different than anybody else. They can use mental health services and I think this program here will be very beneficial," Birkenfeld said.

A first responder or veteran can stay at the in-patient unit for up to three weeks as the trained staff works with the individual to overcome PTSD.