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Heroes are Human Tour’s talk on PTSD hits Corner Brook

Stacia DuHart-Greathouse deals with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) every day.

Chris Quigley/The Western Star
Cpl. Jamie MacWhirter, left, speaks during Wednesday night’s 2016 Heroes are Human Tour panel discussion at Grenfell Campus. Also pictured are panel members Colleen McCourt, centre, and Dr. Mark Johnston.

She doesn’t suffer from the mental condition herself, but her husband Raymond Greathouse, a former United States Capital Police officer, does.

In some ways, that can be just as painful.

DuHart-Greathouse was one of several in attendance Wednesday night at Grenfell Campus for the 2016 Heroes are Human Tour, in conjunction with the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, in which a panel of those afflicted or have other experience with PTSD speak about it firsthand.

Corner Brook’s Jamie MacWhirter, who did a six-month tour of Afghanistan in 2006, was one of the speakers. He was also one of the main reasons DuHart-Greathouse was there.

She started the PTSD Buddies Corner Brook Chapter through MacWhirter, even though she had never met him. This was her chance to finally do so.

“Thank goodness for social media,” she said of how she came to learn of MacWhirter’s story and his struggle with PTSD since his return from deployment.

She had stumbled across his support group following an online search, so she decided to join. After discussing it with MacWhirter, the city chapter of the support group was born shortly thereafter.

Her reasoning was simple — when her husband was diagnosed, there was nothing here and no one she could speak to.

“He was treated well … he had the hospital and the doctors and whatnot,” she said. “But those people who are learning about it had nobody.”

Even with her familiarity on the subject, Wednesday night’s session was very enlightening for her, she said. She learned a lot from listening to stories from those on the panel, and she even spoke to MacWhirter’s wife, Vanessa, to learn about how she’s been dealing with his PTSD.

“I’d like to take all of that back to the group meetings,” she said. “So we know there are other people out there beyond Corner Brook and Newfoundland.

“It’s (national) as opposed to just provincial.”

Near the end of the session, one speaker mentioned that he didn’t want to go so far as to call it a “mental health revolution,” but said awareness of the issue seems to be at an all-time high.

DuHart-Greathouse agreed, though she said the stigma is still there, even though it’s lessening, “but with each person that comes forward, it starts to break down further.”

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