News Former Vietnam POW to Talk in Buffalo, New York

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On Wednesday, April 26, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. Captain Richard A. Stratton USN (Retired) will appear at the St. Joseph University Parish Church at 3269 Main Street in Buffalo to talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder following a traumatic event. According to Julian Ford, Ph.D. of the US Department of Veteran Affairs, trauma occurs when a person directly experiences or witnesses:
  • Unexpected death
  • Severe physical injury or suffering
  • Close calls with death or injury
  • Sexual violation
Dr. Ford says that, "If you have ever experienced or witnessed war, disaster, a terrible accident, sexual or physical abuse or assault, kidnapping or hostage-taking, or life-threatening illnesses, you know the shock of trauma. Nothing in life ever seems quite the same again, even if everything works out for the best. Trauma leaves a lasting imprint of terror, horror, and helplessness on the body and the mind. The world no longer seems safe, manageable, or enjoyable. People no longer seem trustworthy or dependable. Self-doubt and guilt eat away at your self-esteem. Faith and spirituality are shaken or lost."

Captain Stratton has first-hand experience with PTSD. A pilot and maintenance officer onboard the aircraft carrier USS TICONDEROGA, Stratton was captured on January 4, 1967. He was held in the Hanoi prison system and tortured to participate in numerous communist media events in attempts to bolster their propaganda effort. He was released on March 4, 1973, with a total of 591 American POWs. He had been held 2,251 days. Stratton received numerous awards, including the Silver Star and a Purple Heart and the POW medal.

When Mr. Stratton retired from the Navy in 1985, he began a second career in social service. Combining his knowledge of the human service field and his first hand experience with military lifestyle including the most extreme hardships imposed by military service, Stratton has unique expertise to share. He has authored many articles and served as guest lecturer on numerous occasions, remains active in veterans affairs and counsels military personnel and their families.

He and his family are subjects of a book entitled, Prisoner of War, by Scott Blakey as well as numerous TV documentaries and articles. He has served on the Board National League of Families and as President of NamPows, the returned POWs fraternal organization. He also served for seven years as the Chairman, Secretary of Veterans Affairs POW Advisory Committee.

Mr. Stratton says that, "Far more important than man's inhumanity to man, which is as old as Cain, the heart of the ordeal of the POWs confined in North Vietnam was the saga of faith in their fellows, in their countrymen, in their government and in their God. The true story was one of love for one's comrades, one's country, and one's family which prevented the enemy from stealing their minds and destroying their bodies."

Mr. Stratton's appearance is particularly timely in light of the ongoing war in Iraq and the recent hardship that Hurricane Katrina has brought to so many. We encourage the entire community and, in particular, veterans and their loved ones, social workers, educators, psychologists and psychiatrists to attend this valuable conference that is free to the community.

According to Dr. Ford, the symptoms of PTSD include:
  • Feeling so tense, discouraged, or angry that you are afraid you just couldn't cope.
  • Having had an extremely stressful experience that you try not to think about, but it still continues to bother you or is repeated in nightmares.
  • Feeling constantly on guard or watchful, on edge or jumpy more than you really need to be.
If you or a loved one appears troubled in these ways, the information that Mr. Stratton has to share may be valuable for you.

For information on attending this special program, contact Annette Pinder at 883-3331, Ext. 18. St. Joseph University Parish is located at 3269 Main Street, Buffalo, New York 14214, next to the University at Buffalo. Parking is available behind the church.

Source: Amherst Times
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