DEAR ANNIE: I was an army medic who served two deployments in Iraq and saw more than two years' worth of war injuries. Seeing injured soldiers, many of them young, maimed and seriously wounded, while also being concerned for your own life can have an impact on you long after you are out of the situation. After my second deployment, I relocated to San Francisco for a fresh start. It turned out that the busy city, with its noises and crowds, was extremely difficult, and I started feeling depressed and anxious, having panic attacks if people got too near. When a bus I was riding turned a corner and a can rolled by, the sound made me think I was about to be impacted by an IED explosion.
I eventually secluded myself in my home, unwilling to risk the pain that reliving the memories of war caused. After a particularly bad panic attack, I sought help. I'm happy to say that therapy and mindfulness techniques worked well for me, and I hope others in my situation will seek help, too. June 27 is PTSD Awareness Day. Anyone can take the first step toward healing by taking a free, anonymous PTSD self-assessment. Nearly 70 percent of people have experienced a trauma in their lifetime, and about 20 percent of them later experience PTSD. Service members, veterans and their families can take an assessment at MindBodyStrength.org, and the broader community can visit PTSDScreening.org.
I want people with PTSD to know they can get help. Sincerely -- Elijah Ochoa
DEAR ELIJAH OCHOA: We appreciate your service to our country and your openness about sharing your experiences. We are glad to know that you received the help you needed and deserved, and we hope others will take advantage of this free resource. Thank you for writing.
DEAR ANNIE: Please print my pet peeve. I am a senior citizen and dislike the terms used by waitresses, waiters and others serving the public. I feel that I'm being patronized when they call me, "Sweetie," "Honey," "Darlin'," "Angel," etc. These words are not endearing and make me want to decrease my tip. -- B.
DEAR B.: There are some folks who like these terms of endearment, but we agree that they can seem patronizing. No server wants to insult you. If you don't like such terms, please speak up, politely, and tell the server, "I'd appreciate it if you didn't call me 'honey."' We are certain the server will comply.
To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.