Published April 10, 2017
GALLUP, NEW MEXICO – For those around people experiencing mental trauma it can seem imaginary, but for people experiencing trauma it can be very real.
At a seminar on mental health in Gallup on March 29, Navy veteran Paul Talamante described the experience of a flashback – a memory of a violent or traumatic event that floods the mind of a person as they relive it.
“I was kicking someone who was trying to stab me,” he said. “I ended up on the floor, and when I came to I was still kicking.”
Myles Lytle, who works with the veterans anti-suicide group 22 Until None, presented a framework for helping someone in a state of mental distress called “Mental Health First Aid USA” at a seminar organized by the Gallup Service Unit’s Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative.
The MSPI program organized the training at the Sacred Heart Retreat Center specifically for veterans.
Lytle stopped to check the understanding of participants at various points as the eight-hour training progressed.
At one point he asked what someone might say to a veteran experiencing mental duress. Participants suggested asking how they could help, letting the veteran know they were there, or letting the person feel safe talking to them.
“I’m really glad that nobody said, ‘Snap out of it,’” Lytle told the participants.
Lytle has helped veterans through the 22 Until None program, which deals with suicide prevention. To run the training, he is certified through Mental Health First Aid. But, with experience going back before that, the former Marine had stories as well as lessons to share.
He said he once received a call around 11 p.m. from Gallup police who wanted him to talk to a veteran at the detox center. He asked if the man was intoxicated and the caller said the veteran was.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.