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An Inside Look into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Updated: Saturday, April 19 2014, 04:16 PM CDT

Those serving in the military often experience situations most of us could never imagine.

When the memories are too painful, soldiers may feel anxious or scared even when they're no longer in danger.
It's a text message no military mom ever wants to receive.

"She sent a text saying there's an active shooter on base, but I'm fine," said Cynthia Randolph, mother of a Fort Hood soldier.

Randolph's daughter, Sarah, was in the midst of a deadly attack at Fort Hood.

"My heart sank. I thought oh my God," Randolph said.

Sarah is not one of the fatalities or wounded by shooter Ivan Lopez.

The soldier was being evaluated for post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but had not yet been diagnosed.

"These traumatic experiences leave memory traces and emotional residue in the mind that are extraordinary that people don't integrate, so they remain very, very emotional and very, very painful," said Dr. James E. Myers, psy.D.

Myers is a clinical psychologist who specializes in PTSD. He says the disorder is prevalent in the military, particularly among those who have been in combat.

But Myers says that PTSD does not typically cause someone to act violently.

"I could conceptualize of how they might become violent through fright or through an attempt to prevent re-traumatization, but not typically," Myers said.

Military personnel say whatever caused the solider to open fire, they hope to learn from the event.

"If it was something PTSD, can we be more vigilant and more understanding in helping soldiers get the help," said Captain Grove, Public Affairs Officer for the Illinois National Guard.

Experts say families should talk to their loved one in the military as often as possible so they can pick up on any clues that something might be wrong.

Which is something Randolph says she tries to do so she can remain close to her daughter.

"I try to talk to her at least every day," Randolph said.

Myers says when he treats his patients for PTSD, he allows them to gradually approach the painful memories of combat, but there's a stigma attached to PTSD that those with the disorder are weak.

That's why Myers says many times these people don't seek treatment.

There are six Illinois National Guard soldiers at Fort Hood. Officials say they are all safe.

An Inside Look into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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