Iowa Soldiers Returning from Afghanistan and the Challenges of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Many Iowa soldiers returning home after deployment in Afghanistan confront a new set of struggles. Many are challenged by the emotional distress of war and some develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Acclimating to civilian life apart from the military routine may also pose a challenge.  Many soldiers report sleep disturbances, difficulty with anger and increased attention to threats -- both real and perceived.

Most veterans cope with the emotional distress effectively, but some develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.  Iowa National Guard officials say virtually everyone returning from a combat zone copes with some degree of emotional distress. 

Sgt. Heather Eberly: “My husband, if you asked him, he would say, ‘Yes, she has PTSD.’  Myself?  I am an anxious person anyway.  So I think yeah maybe a little residual PTSD but I am dealing with it and I think I am dealing with it in a pretty healthy way.“

Heather and Josh Eberly were married just before she left for Afghanistan.  Realizing the stress her deployment placed on both of them, the couple agreed to seek counseling from Military One Source, a free service provided by the Department of Defense.

Sgt. Josh Eberly: “If you care for someone you will stay through that anger and you will try to work through it.  Right now we are going to see a marriage counselor to make sure our bond of our marriage bond is not broken, bent, tied in as a knot and it will stay there.”

Sgt. J. Winkowski:  “When I first came back from Iraq, for the first time I really experienced PTSD. I became what I referred to as being hyper-alert , meaning that I was constantly waking up, constantly staying awake, having trouble falling back asleep, because I thought someone was in my house or something was going on to where I needed to be up… I think it’s a little easier the second time around. I still feel like I’ve gotta have a weapon on me. It’s to a lesser extent than it was in Iraq but I think it’s a good idea to get back into counseling and going through that same type of things that made things better the first time around. “

Excerpt from "Iowa Soldiers Remember Afghanistan," Iowa PBS, 2011