By Rachel Walker
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Camden County College student and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Joshua House spoke about dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder at a presentation and question-and-answer session about the topic Nov. 10 in Civic Hall.
“I was injured in Iraq and just about died,” House, a Purple Heart recipient, said at the gathering, which was hosted by Psi Beta (National Honor Society in Psychology). “I suffered numerous injuries, had surgeries in three different countries and can’t count how many states in the U.S. I’ve been to.”
House said he is trying to control how PTSD affects his life. He said he has named his disease Wolfie because “a wolf like that when it’s hungry is going to eat you, so you either have to choose to feed it and learn to live with it or it’s going to run your life.”
House was involved with a suicide bombing in Iraq while he and his crew were patrolling a city. He nearly lost his life and he said it is the reason he experiences PTSD to this day.
“My initial wounds healed but you have no basic concept of how you’ve changed in the beginning. You’re just so lost. You’re somewhat in a haze. And you’re impulsive, you’re angry, you can’t talk to anybody. And the worst part is, in the beginning, you don’t even feel it to talk to somebody about it,” House stated.
Nine years ago, House said he reached out for help. He still has to take medication for his anxiety and complete physical training exercises every day to help with his injuries.
“I always like to say that the hardest part about being disabled is having to pretend that I’m not,” he said. “And with that, the biggest gift that you can give anyone disabled is just understand that you don’t see it all.”
The presentation covered a variety of topics, including psychological distress and symptoms, common reactions to trauma, diagnostic features of PTSD and effective treatments. A question-and-answer session at the end allowed attendees to ask House questions.
“Our basic goals of today are to bring some awareness to PTSD and then give an inside look at combat and what it’s like with combat,” the chairman of the college’s psychology department and faculty adviser to Psi Beta, Professor Michael Colbert, said at the start of the presentation.