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Veterans warn against stereotyping PTSD

The gunman killed by police on Memorial Drive was an Army veteran, who friends believe was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But local veterans say it's dangerous to connect the shooting to PTSD alone.

"Just because we've seen war, just because we've seen death—not everyone is like the individual who did what he did in the Memorial area," said Justin Masters, a veteran and veteran coordinator at Camp Hope, a facility that helps veterans and their families with the effects of PTSD.

These veterans all have their own stories.

"Each one of us had different jobs in the military. My PTSD comes from being a medic," said Ron Youngblut, Camp Hope's director of operations and veteran.

Their struggles are real.

"Just counting the people I've lost from my unit to suicide is getting up there," Masters said.

However, they all agree: using PTSD as an explanation for an Army veteran opening fire on Memorial Drive is unfair to them.

"I've lost many friends and none of them were outwardly aggressive," said Joseph Demase, a Camp Hope administrator and veteran.

"They hear shooting, veteran, PTSD—they put the 3 together, quick easy answer," said David Maulsby, Camp Hope's executive director.

It can be a lot more complicated, however.

Maulsby says PTSD alone doesn't manifest into mass shootings.

So, what signs can people look for?

"The hyper anxiety, the inability to be around a crowd, to be assessing everything they see," said Maulsby.

"How do we help them? The VA's own research shows that peer mentoring is the best form of treatment for PTSD," said Demase.

That's what they do at Camp Hope, helping veterans get back on their feet.

"If it wasn't for this place, I wouldn't be here," said Masters.

They house around 40 vets, but just doubled their capacity to serve even more.

"I found brotherhood, I found people that I can confide in and trust in when I felt like the whole world turned its back against me," said Youngblut.

It's here, they say, where change is happening, and they hope the community sees veterans suffering with PTSD can be transformed.

"There's nothing in this world that brings me happiness than helping others through the struggles I've gone through and have been able to overcome," said Masters.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-877-717-PTSD.

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