Kansas Army National Guard 1st Sgt. Ted Lawyer, an Iraq war veteran, walks the halls of Colmery-O'Neil Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Topeka on the way to see his counselor for post traumatic stress disorder.
Kansas Army National Guard 1st Sgt. Ted Lawyer attends a counseling session at the Colmery-O'Neil Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Topeka for his post traumatic stress disorder. His counselor, Kathy Zima, works with him to recognize triggers that could cause mental distress or flashbacks.
Ted Lawyer, 61, left, returned from Iraq in October 2006 and was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. Now, he and his wife, Gwen Lawyer, right, are trying to cope with his changed personality. A Humvee he was riding in while in Iraq was hit by an improvised explosive device. "Before he went to Iraq, he was a fun-loving guy, always joking around," Gwen said about her husband of 16 years. "Now he is so serious. He is just so different."
Part of Ted Lawyer's reaction to post traumatic stress disorder is feeling uncomfortable in crowded situations. Here, in Wal-Mart, Ted backs against a wall in a less crowded area of the shopping center to avoid crowds. He is anxious about people approaching him from behind. "Since I'm not missing an arm or a leg or any appendage, they look at me as if I'm normal and acting weird," Lawyer said.
Ted has experienced flashbacks and blackouts while driving in Lawrence since returning from Iraq in 2006. There are certain stretches of road he refuses to drive on alone. He attributes the blackouts to his experience of being hit by an improvised explosive device while in Iraq.