Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk on PTSD

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Apr 7, 2014 4:52 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, April 8, 2014:

stress 300 x 170.jpg

When in danger, it's natural to feel afraid.  This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against danger or to avoid it.  This "fight-or-flight" response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm.  But in post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged.  People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they're no longer in danger.

That comes from the National Institute of Mental Health's web page on PTSD.

The U.S. has been fighting wars for the past 13 years.  Many soldiers have been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq multiple times.  We often hear about the number of service men or women returning who are suffering from PTSD.  It could lead one to believe the majority of returning combat vets have PTSD.  Actually, it's about 18%

On Tuesday's Smart Talk, Dr. Ronald Johnson, a clinical psychologist at the Lebanon VA Medical Center, will answer our questions about PTSD.

To learn more on PTSD visit

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1) or a confidential chat at

Va Outpatient Mental Health Services:

1700 South Lincoln Avenue Lebanon, Pa 17042, 717-272-6621 or 1-800-409-8771


Dr. Ronald Johnson

Also, service dogs are being trained to help those diagnosed with PTSD.  For many, the dog is just a companion but others are trained to help the PTSD sufferer and their specific needs. 

We'll learn more on Tuesday's Smart Talk about service dogs and PTSD from Dog T.A.G.S. (Train Assist Guide Serve).  Dog TAGS is a service dog owner training program for veterans suffering from PTSD and  Traumatic Brain Injury.

Trainer Joan Klingler and Vietnam vet Tommy Ward appear on the program.

Hear a feature about the Dog TAGS program here.


Service Dog Mason, Tommy Ward, & Joan Klingler

Listen to the program:

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  • Robert D Colgan img 2014-04-08 07:19

    That we have come to associate PTSD with war I find most puzzling:
    to my understanding, all disease is the sequela to trauma; trauma, (the alteration of the normal equilibrium), can be virtually anything that acts to disrupt that initial equilibrium state.

    The disruption can be physical, mental, or spiritual, or combinations of the three. It can be short-lived or chronic. It can be dispelled, or incorporated into a new equilibrium setting. Its effects vary from trivial to life-threatening.

    The largest group in America, taken as a whole, that clearly reveal the effects of more severe trauma are women and children who have been victimized by exposure to domestic violence.

    Our immense prison system is nothing more than an immersion tank for maintaining existent PTSD or inducing it in other forms to the inmates.
    Prisons do not remediate the PTSD that drove most inmates to commit acts of crime.

    Divorce is often the social custom that traumatizes our young: the loss of parental love, perceived or real, can constitute lasting trauma resulting in disruption in the ability to form lasting intimate relationships with others: again, an example of the sequela of PTSD.

    • Scott LaMar img 2014-04-08 07:52


      You're absolutely right about associating PTSD and military service. it is one of the points I want to make on the program today -- that of the 7.7 million Americans who have been diagnosed with PTSD, the vast majority never were in the military. However, with that said, what prompted today's program to be scheduled when it is is the shooting at Fort Hood and the rush to judgment that the gunman must have been diagnosed with PTSD. There are many myths surrounding this condition and I hope to get to many of them.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-04-08 08:18

    Paul emails:

    I am a combat veteran who is experiencing minor PTSD related symptoms. They are distracting but with my family and friends helping I can manage. My worry is how I will deal with this if my support system that I have created isn't as strong in the future. I have never reached out to the military, so the VA has no record of any issues. In the future will it be easy to get help from the VA without previous evidence of PTSD?

    Thank you very much

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-04-08 08:22

    Susan emails:

    This is SAAM. Sexual abuse awareness month.
    I have PTSD but never connected the dots between symptoms and violation as a child. We have a most wonderful resource here in York PA Turning Point women's Counseling center. There is hope! I'm 61 years old and a healing survivor

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-04-08 08:35

    John emails:

    When Bush was
    > president you heard about the military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan
    > almost daily. With Obama in the White House, the mainstream media has
    > been strangely quiet.
    > ---
    > More than 1,000 American soldiers
    > have lost their lives in Afghanistan in the last 27 months. This is
    > more than the combined total of the nine years before. Thirty have
    > died in August. During the last month, over 50 additional NATO and US
    > servicemen have been murdered, inside jobs by those who are hired to
    > be a force for good in Afghanistan .
    > The commander in chief is AWOL.
    > Not a peep, although he ordered the White House flag flown at
    > half-staff for the Sikhs that were killed. There is a deep disgust, a
    > fury, growing in the ranks of the military against the indifferent
    > incompetence of this president
    > .
    > It has taken on a dangerous tone.
    > No one knows what to do about him, but the anger runs deep as the
    > deaths continue with no strategic end in sight to the idiocy of this
    > war. Obama has had 4 years to end this futile insanity, during which
    > time he has vacationed, golfed, campaigned, and generally ignored the
    > plight of our men and women in uniform. But, there is now a movement
    > afoot in the armed services to launch a massive get out the vote drive
    > against this president.
    > Not just current active duty
    > types, but the National Guard, Reserves, the retired, and all other
    > prior service members. This is no small special interest group, but
    > many millions of veterans who can have an enormous impact on the
    > outcome of the November election
    > if they all respond.
    > The one million military retirees
    > in Florida alone could mean an overwhelming victory in that state if
    > they all show up at the polls. It might not keep another one hundred
    > U.S. troops from dying between now and November, but a turn out to
    > vote by the military against this heart breaking lack of leadership
    > can make a powerful statement that hastens a change to the
    > indifference of this shallow little man who just lets our soldiers
    > die.
    > Veterans: Please forward to your
    > lists.
    > High
    > Priority!

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