CINCINNATI — The scene playing out on the streets of Ukraine is having an impact on combat veterans at home.
Cher Runtenelli, director of Norwood's Vet Center, said their staff of veterans are there to be a resource for people who may be experiencing issues after seeing the images of Russian forces invading Ukraine. The center has an open-door policy and walk-ins are always welcome.
“We have now a Monday night at 6 o’clock open group a veteran does not need an appointment,” Runtenelli said. “Veterans are telling us that these images in the news are upsetting to them and they remind them of their own combat experiences, and they remind them of their own combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Runtenelli said some combat veterans may begin to have a number of reactions to the images, such as anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares or flashbacks.
Family members are often the ones who can feel alienated while their loved ones experience such symptoms. Runtenelli said the center often takes calls from mothers trying to better understand how they can help their child work through PTSD.
“You know, recognize the way they may be feeling has nothing to do with you,” she said.
Runtenelli said their team has the tools to help family members better understand how to navigate those symptoms through the VA system.
“You know the VA is a massive organization and just knowing where to start can be confusing," Runtenelli said. "You can come here, and we can help you navigate the complex system. If we can't help you we know who can and we'll help connect you."
In a recent post on the VA website, Secretary Denis McDonough acknowledged the concern for combat veterans who may be dealing with post-traumatic stress tied to the images out of Ukraine.
“I know that many of you, like me, have been deeply affected by the war in Ukraine,” McDonough said. “Please know that we at VA are here for you during this difficult time."
The post suggested veterans limit media exposure, especially if it’s increasing your distress.
For veterans in the Tri-State looking for guidance on how to better utilize the VA system, the Cincinnati Vet Center is located at 4545 Montgomery Road, Norwood, OH 45212. Their phone number is 513-763-3500.
Anyone in a crisis and having thoughts of self-harm should call the Veterans Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.