MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A group of graying men meet at the Blount County Veterans Affairs office every Tuesday morning. Most arrive early to chat before the coffee's served up and the session begins. Once they get going, they can't stop reliving the days they spent in Vietnam.
The men are Vietnam veterans meeting for a weekly post traumatic stress disorder support group.
More commonly referred to as PTSD, symptoms include depression, anxiety and sleeplessness.
While rarely diagnosed at the onset of symptoms, these vets say both diagnosis and treatment have improved by leaps and bounds over the past 30 years.
"I never thought anything was wrong with me. I was just a normal 'ol east Tennessean that wouldn't take no crap from nobody, but you have a life changing experience, for me it was a big accident, and you learn to deal with it everyday," said Marine Corps veteran Roger Lowe.
For Lowe, that meant finding help at the V.A. It's the very same office where Lcpl. Theodore "TJ" Jones IV mother sought help for him. A few months later Jones lost his life in a late night shootout with police, one his family believes was triggered by a nightmare from his time spent in combat in Iraq.
"Awareness is getting better and the helps getting a lot better but it's still not enough when you have a young man with possible PTSD symptoms tragically get killed. We're not doing enough," said Veterans Affairs Director Nathan Weinbaum.
Weinbaum said there are plenty of resources and support in place, but there's not enough awareness.
One in 12 Americans experience PTSD symptoms at some point in their lives. The number jumps to one in three when looking at men and women who've spent time in combat.