Options Available For Wichita Falls Veterans Needing Mental Health Care

Veterans dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder do not have a Wichita Falls facility dedicated to treating PTSD through the Veteran Administration.

Newschannel 6 crews have been talking to veteran organizations in Wichita Falls making numerous calls trying to find any local treatment centers for veterans,  provided by the VA. Every call led to another organization.

Newschannel 6 has learned that the handful of organizations here in Wichita Falls can help, but it is not enough.

Monday's apartment standoff has people questioning mental health treatment options available to veterans in Texoma.

Joel Jimenez, Wichita Falls Commander of Disabled Veterans says, "It is another wake up call for our people here in Wichita Falls. Maybe it is time to go after a facility of that kind to help these young men and women coming out of the war."

Joel Jimenez says he has seen many veterans come through his doors dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but these men and women do not have a Wichita Falls facility dedicated to treating PTSD.

Instead, they have to go to Lawton or Fort Worth or seek therapy at a private practice. Local clinical psychologists like Doctor David Sabine have treated a number of veterans for a number of years.

Doctor David Sabine says, "If they need psychotherapy or they need weekly contact that often is not so accessible for them, they may not even know that there are local options for them. I think that communication has not been real great in the past."

Doctor Sabine also says veterans dealing with PTSD can often turn to drugs and alcohol, push friends and family away, and even seclude themselves or surround themselves with resources that make them feel safe.

Doctor Sabine comments, "They've been in such life threatening situations and its hard not to believe that they might be in them again. They want to be prepared and they feel that surrounding themselves with those kinds of resources will help diminish their anxiety and prepare for a threat if it should rise."

Newschannel 6 spoke to a woman who says she lives next door to the apartment standoff suspect, Michael Benzing. She told Newschannel 6 that Benzing admitted to her that he suffers from PTSD. She does not know if he has sought any kind of treatment.

She also told Newschannel 6 that Sunday was Michael's one year anniversary of returning from the Iraq War.

The Wichita County veterans service is trying to establish a facility treating PTSD and other mental health issues in Wichita Falls.

They have sent a letter to the VA asking for a facility. Officials say if it is approved it could still take a while to get a facility set up.

Click here to read Newschannel 6 coverage of the apartment Standoff that took place Monday.

Natalie Garcia,  Newschannel 6