An estimated 60,000 veterans live in our five county area and many of them aren't getting the help they need. Thousands suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and our region doesn't have a vet center to offer psychological help to them and their families. One group of local vets is trying to change that. Fighting in combat can be extremely traumatic, but once those in uniform come home, the problems do not necessarily go away. "Many of them are so stressed out, they resort to alcohol, drugs, and unfortunately, suicide in many cases," said Vietnam vet, Jim Bliss. Veteran Jim Bliss knows first hand. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. “You feel lonely. You feel out of place. You're outside of the society," he said. This group, made up of representatives from veterans organizations, wants to avoid that by starting a local vet center to offer counseling. Funded by the Veterans Affairs Department, there are five in North Carolina, the closest in Fayetteville. The help is not just for those who have served, but also their loved ones, like Iris Winters, who lost a son in combat in 1993 and currently has a son serving. “I’ll have what they call panic attacks and they get you, and not even your doctor understands," Winters said. While recent veterans need the help so do those who have not served in decades. Vietnam veteran, Anthony Musolino said, "Now they are looking at our guys fighting over there and they're getting flashbacks." Thursday's meeting was the first step in discussions for getting a vet center together; the first of many. But they are determined to offer the help that is needed, to those who deserve it. "We are something, we have done something, and we have given to our country," Bliss said. The group will continue to meet and take action to open the local vet center. North Carolina has one of the largest veteran populations in the United States.
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