Disabled Veterans Outreach Program specialist Brad Aune gave the first presentation in the VALOR Presents speaker series on Wednesday, Nov. 14 in the Memorial Union Arikara room. The presentation lasted an hour and was meant to give insight into the struggles many soldiers face when they come home from war.
The main purpose of this presentation was to inform the public of how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects soldiers who are in the process of transitioning out of the military. Aune made sure to clarify that not only soldiers deal with PTSD, but also civilians who have gone through any kind of past trauma. Aune explained how though there is help out there, it is up to the person dealing with PTSD to seek the help they need.
Aune is the 2015 recipient of the Disabled American Veterans National Employment Service Award and also received the 2016 American Legion State and National Award for Veterans Employment. He served in the military with the United States Marine Corps and as a member of the North Dakota National Guard for 22 years.
Aune discussed the difficulties he and many others face when dealing with PTSD. Aune reflected back on his years serving the country and recalled how difficult it was for him to transfer back into society. When a soldier comes back from war, Aune said society believes they can go back to living their life just like before they left, but Aune argued that this can’t happen. “You can never be a civilian again,” Aune said. “That can never happen, but you can be a veteran.” He said soldiers aren’t given enough time to cope with the events they live through while actively serving. When it comes time for them to return home, their lives won’t be the same. He encouraged everyone who has just got out of active duty to reach out to Veterans Affairs (VA) for support and help.
Aune explained how he has received counseling over the years and how it has changed his life. Aune said he was taking eight different medications at one point for anxiety, pain and counteracting medications for high blood pressure, but then he started yoga through the VA. At the time, it was a test program where he stopped taking his medications and started seeing a chiropractor, receiving acupuncture and doing yoga for pain treatment. Now that he’s not taking any medication, his blood pressure is down and he feels that he has decreased the amount of pressure on his body because he has given himself time to just stop and think with guidance.
Aune said whether it is other veterans, professors or advisors, just being with people who can offer support can help guide you through the worst days.
According to Aune, it may be difficult to reach some people with PTSD. “We’re all different. We all have our armor up for whatever situation, whether you’re in the military or a civilian,” Aune mentioned after being asked if there was a way to encourage people to get help sooner.
Aune said he wants to see a VA center at North Dakota State that is welcome to all student veterans so they can get the help and support they need from other veterans. He said he believes there should have been one located on campus years ago. He also said he would like to see more insight in the NDSU community regarding PTSD so we can create a welcoming environment for veterans.