Students draw attention to PTSD

to post-traumatic stress disorder, a media sensation akin to the ALS ice bucket challenge has swept the nation. The 22 Pushup Challenge requires participants to do 22 pushups every day for 22 days in order to spread awareness of veteran suicide.

Statistically, about 22 veterans commit suicide in the United States every day.

Each day, the contributor takes a video of himself or herself doing the pushups, uploads the video on a social media site and challenges a friend to start the challenge as well. The idea is that one person will eventually challenge 22 more, and those people will in turn challenge their friends.

“I was really persuaded to do it because I have a lot of family in the military,” said John Brown University sophomore Jonathan Keith. He was challenged by a friend in early September, and has been promoting the campaign by continuing to post pushup videos and challenging others to get involved as well.

John Brown University Student Johnathan Keith does 22 push-ups a say to bring awareness to PTSD and suicide amongst veterans.
John Brown University Student Johnathan Keith does 22 push-ups a say to bring awareness to PTSD and suicide amongst veterans.

“I love our veterans, I love our nation and I’d love to support them because PTSD is a really serious thing,” he said.

According to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, about 8 million adults have PTSD in a given year. About 11-20 percent of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have been diagnosed with PTSD. About 12 percent of Gulf War veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD, and about 15 percent of Vietnam War veterans were diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Keith has experienced the effects of PTSD through his grandfather, a military veteran.

“He was a super nice guy at first but after the war it kinda created a depression in his heart – a darkness,” Keith said. “He just didn’t seem happy ever.” Symptoms that accompany PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks and negative changes in beliefs and feelings.    

“The military is a very hard place to be,” Zoe Shafer, junior Biblical Studies major and founder of JBU’s Eagle Society said. “I’ve seen what people in the military go through and they just really deserve our support because they have sacrificed a lot for our country.”

Shafer grew up experiencing the challenges of military life, as her father is a chaplain for the U.S. Navy. She says that often, military troops are away from their families for months, sometimes years at a time, and sometimes even miss the birth of their children.

“Show your support for them because they have given up a lot,” she said.

Shafer actively participates in community events to support military veterans and help them readjust to life as a civilian. She is currently working on instituting a new CAUSE ministry on JBU’s campus, aimed at helping veterans within Siloam Springs and the surrounding communities.

“We’re thinking of going and helping out the veteran’s home in Fayetteville,” she said. Last year she also helped organize Walmart’s Green Light a Vet campaign, during which the lights shining on the University clock tower were turned green

“It was essentially shining a green light to show your support for veterans,” Shafer said. “It’s like green for hope.”