Ottawa veteran part of growing PTSD support network
Military Minds not-for-profit founded last October to aid soldiers and vets
A former soldier living in south Ottawa is part of a network of veterans and serving soldiers who help others like them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Former artillery sergeant Jason Ames of North Gower, is one of 19 site administrators at Military Minds, a not-for-profit corporation founded in October 2012 to provide counselling to soldiers struggling with PTSD, which now has 55,000 members.
And like many of the people he connects to through the group's Facebook page, the 42-year-old Ames is also struggling with PTSD.
Ames served in Cyprus and was a military firefighter in the Gulf during Afghanistan, but he said it was his tour in Bosnia that haunts him.
"We were in the middle of opposing forces who were bombing each other, day in, and day out. And I would be waiting, waiting until we could get back into camp, where I could feel safer," said Ames.
Doctors could explain his recurring stomach pains years later, but a psychologist later diagnosed it as PTSD. James was having recurring dreams about launching mortars, about sniper fire and started to feel other physical symptoms, including the feeling of constriction around his neck, as if someone was choking him.
Ames got a medical discharge in 2011 and a prescription for drugs which control his symptoms.
He said helping others online through Military Minds can trigger episodes, but also feels good.
While soldiers and veterans can seek out professional help elsewhere, the site offers a place for them to get peer support and talk with people who understand what they're going through.
It's not clear if there is any connection between PTSD and the apparent suicides last week of four soldiers.
Ames said the site saw an increase in hits soon after the apparent suicides, but said most of the messages posted were ones of support and encouragement.