In a weekend prelude to Veterans Day observances, the local Aerospace Museum of California will host a discussion about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an often-invisible condition that affects up to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and up to 30 percent of Vietnam veterans.
Featured panelist, author, and Vietnam War veteran William J. Blaylock of El Dorado Hills suffers from flashbacks, emotional numbing, and survivor’s guilt. He will join doctors and PTSD experts Marius Koga, Amir Hamidi and Yara Mohamad for the PTSD panel discussion at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 9 at the museum.
Admission to the Aerospace Museum of California will be free for those who attend the event. The exhibition is located on the former McClellan Air Force Base, 3200 Freedom Park Drive, McClellan.
Koga is a medical doctor and the director of health research at UC Davis School of Medicine. He is a recognized expert in the study and treatment of traumatic stress in both veterans and law enforcement officers. Hamidi holds a PhD and is resident agent in charge of the Department of Justice for the Eastern District of California. Syrian-born physician Mohamad brings her broad range of research and experience in traumatic research to the panel.
The event also offers an advance peek at a new book written by Blaylock and published by Pretty Road Press of Folsom.
Blaylock will read from an advance copy of his memoir, scheduled for official release on Monday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day. Pre-release copies will be available after the panel discussion.
Blaylock’s book, titled Invisible: PTSD’s Stealth Attack on a Vietnam War Veteran, traces the genesis of the veteran’s PTSD to his experiences at Camp Rockpile in Vietnam. The book opens with the traumatic story of U.S. Army efforts to aid pinned-down Marines along a stretch of Vietnam’s Highway 9. Air Force F-4 Phantoms are overhead, and Blaylock is manning two 40-mm guns on his open-turret tank.
Today Blaylock still has trouble with the memories, but for nearly 40 years he had no idea he was suffering from a common affliction among Vietnam War veterans. He suffered a failed marriage, went through 39 different jobs, and checked the perimeter of his house, night after night. He thought he was alone in his struggles.
Today experts know PTSD is not just a condition affecting war veterans. It also plagues law enforcement officers, rescue workers, victims of abuse, and others who have experienced traumatic events such as automobile accidents.
“The Aerospace Museum of California is pleased to offer this informative program during Veterans Day weekend as a service to our community,” said Museum Executive Director Roxanne Yonn.
Jim Hopp, retired air force major general and president of the museum board of directors, said, “Too often vets go for years before they recognize the mental damage caused by the horrors of war.”
Impressed by Blaylock’s story, Hopp wrote the forward to the book Invisible, saying, “Bill’s personal story lifts the cloak of silence and fear from this seemingly invisible injury. He helps us realize that it isn’t just combat that can injure people’s psyche with the debilitating effects of PTSD; it can be any number of other traumatic events that any one of us can experience.”
The hour-long panel will explore various aspects of PTSD including what Dr. Koga calls “the hidden part of trauma, the iceberg,” according to Hopp.
Following the panel discussion, visitors are welcome to continue their Veterans Day observance by exploring the museum’s 37,500 square-foot Hardie Setzer Aerospace Pavilion.