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First step is recognizing the problem

Dear Annie: As a military war veteran and someone raised in the midst of inner-city violence, I have suffered from and learned a great deal about post-traumatic stress disorder. There are many misconceptions about this common and treatable illness, and I want to make sure your readers know the truth about PTSD and how to get help if they need it.

When I got out of the service, I could only sit in certain positions in a room and go to certain places. I couldn’t be in crowds or tolerate any kind of loud traffic noise (not easy for a New Yorker). I couldn’t sit next to a window. If anyone came up behind me to say hello, I would drop them to the ground, expecting an attack.

I didn’t recognize this at the time as PTSD. I know there are many others with stories like mine, and I want them to know that PTSD is a real illness with real treatment options. It is also important to know that this doesn’t only affect members of the military. Anyone who experiences a traumatic event can develop PTSD.

It wasn’t easy, but I eventually got the help I needed and am in a much better place. June 20 is PTSD Screening Day, and June is PTSD Awareness Month. Anyone can go online and take a free and anonymous screening at www.PTSDScreening.org to see whether their symptoms are consistent with those of PTSD. It can be hard to reach out and ask for help, but doing so can make a huge difference.

— William Terry

Dear Mr. Terry: Thank you for sharing your story with our readers. You are correct that anyone who has witnessed or experienced trauma can suffer from PTSD. This includes anyone affected by recent tragedies such as Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon and the tornadoes in Oklahoma. The first step to getting help is identifying the problem. We urge those who think their experience with trauma is impacting them to go to www.PTSDscreening.org and take a short, free, anonymous screening. You won’t be sorry.

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Dear Annie: Can you tell me what is so wrong with a youngster sending an invitation to her aunt addressed to “Aunt Frances” instead of “Mrs. Frances Smith”? My sister gets all bent out of shape when my 10-year-old daughter addresses an envelope to her this way.

— Wondering in Clinton Township

Dear Wondering: Your sister should be amazed to receive a handwritten envelope from her niece altogether. It’s fairly rare these days. It’s perfectly OK for a young niece to write “Aunt Frances” on an envelope. Many aunts would be charmed. However, one rule of etiquette is not to intentionally offend. Since you know your sister wants a more formal address, teach your daughter to write to her this way, and please don’t editorialize when you do so.

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Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Wish He’d Look for Another Job,” who is frustrated by a young co-worker. “Justin” can’t remember what was said the minute he hangs up the telephone, doesn’t pay attention to what he is doing, takes on no new responsibilities, makes the same mistakes over and over, texts his wife constantly and falls apart over every issue.

I would like to mention another possibility. I know a young man who needs constant teaching, doesn’t want to try new things, forgets almost instantly what he has been taught and rarely offers to do anything. He has a processing disorder. He is a loving 30-year-old, but I don’t think he will ever hold a job unless special considerations are made for him. I hope that if he does get a job, it is with folks who are tolerant of his learning disability, although they may not know he has special needs.

— A Reader

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Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

— Creators Syndicate Inc.

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