Darci Marchese, wtop.com
WASHINGTON -- Staff Sgt. Meg Krause was the last person to notice she wasn't coping well after returning from Iraq, but after getting help, she is hoping to inspire other veterans to do the same.
Krause is a member of the 20 percent who served in Iraq or Afghanistan who suffer from PTSD, or, post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Department of Veteran's Affairs. She served in Iraq in 2005 and saw the horrors of war up close. She was also in harms way many times.
She says she had flashbacks and couldn't shake images of war, but convinced herself it was okay, that it was her "new normal."
But things quickly got worse.
Krause, who worked as a medic in a reserve unit, says she started drinking too much. She didn't keep appointments, slept a lot and went from being a model soldier to one who was getting in trouble.
One of her fellow soldiers pulled her aside at lunch.
"He basically bulleted out each one of my signs and symptoms and said, 'for the good of this unit, you need to go get help.'"
One of her superiors had a similar message for her.
But she still wasn't convinced.
Then one day while going to college, she heard a car backfire. Suddenly, she was in a bad flashback. She says she was running around, believing insurgents were chasing her. She eventually ended up diving on the ground, face in a mud pit.
"That night was the night that I called and asked my friends to take me to the VA. I walked in and said, 'I think I need some help,'" says Krause.
Krause now advises other military veterans to get help quickly. She believes the longer you wait, the more danger you may be in.
She's now working with realwarriors.net to encourage vets to keep an an eye on other vets. After all, she says, it was likely other vets keeping an eye on her that saved her life.
"It probably was the best thing anybody has ever done for me, although admittedly really hard to hear at the time," she says.
For more information on getting help, click here. Or, call the outreach center at Defence Centers of Excellence, DCoE, at 1-866-966-1020.
To learn more about Krause, watch a video about her story here.
(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)