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CARTERVILLE – A band of veterans groups have come together to “shatter the silence” on post-traumatic stress disorder.

That silence, the groups say, contributes to the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day and takes a toll on families.

To combat any stigma attached to the disorder, the groups have planned an all-day conference on Nov. 7 at John A. Logan College to raise awareness among its victims, family and service providers, said Pamela Largent, president of This Able Veteran, one organization sponsoring the event.

The conference, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is designed for any victim of PTSD, not just veterans, she said. Other sponsors include the Marion VA Medical Center, Centerstone and SIU Veteran Services.

“We really started to realize that a lot of people don’t understand all it is that the veterans are facing,” Largent said. “We just decided it would be good to start the conversation in the community and get people to start talking about this.”

Conference participants are expected to discuss a wide range of topics, including workplace interventions, relationships, alternative medicines and yoga, as well as creating support groups.

Panel discussions among veterans and spouses are also planned.

Largent said the plan will be to hold other conferences in the future, using next month’s as a first to begin talking about issues pertaining to PTSD.

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She said it is needed.

“Our veterans experience a lack of understanding every day,” she said.

Though there have been successes, she said, sharing the story of one of her group’s veterans who at first was not hired for a job because the company could not provide accommodations for the service dog trained by Largent’s group.

Ultimately, the veteran was hired by the company and that veteran is now working with the employer on policies regarding workplace accommodations for PTSD patients.

Those interested in attending the conference must register by Nov. 1. To learn more about the event or to become a vendor, visit http://thisableveteran.org/learn-ptsd/.

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Nick Mariano is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Saline, Franklin and Jefferson counties.

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