Combat veteran and psychologist to speak about PTSD history, symptoms and new treatments

Combat veteran and psychologist to speak about PTSD history, symptoms and new treatments

From the Civil War until 1980, terms like “nostalgia, soldier’s heart, shell shock and battle fatigue” were used to describe the behaviors of soldiers returning from combat. Those behaviors are now recognized officially as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and are seen as one of the signature “wounds of war.”

Dr. Craig Burnette, a decorated Vietnam veteran and psychologist who spent 28 years working in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will provide a historical overview of PTSD, while discussing specific symptoms, treatments and what some are calling “post trauma growth,” as medicine moves toward challenging the prevailing notions that individual mental health issues are unchanging and/or irreversible.

Burnette’s talk will take place Monday, Feb. 29, from 3-4 p.m. in Gibbs Auditorium (located in Ellis Hall) at Spartanburg Methodist College. The event is free and open to the public. Psi Beta, the college’s Psychology Honor Society, is sponsoring the event.

“Every Psi Beta seminar is a platform to address theories, issues and concepts talked about in the classroom. Dr. Burnette is a war veteran who happens to have a dearth of personal and professional experiences dealing with cases of PTSD, a disorder addressed in our psychology classes,” says Mary Jane Farmer, professor of psychology and SMC faculty adviser for Psi Beta.

Burnette served in the U.S. Army as an infantry platoon leader, company commander and military adviser. His decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. He began his VA service as a therapist for other Vietnam veterans and their families before moving into administrative positions in outreach and residential care programs. He was instrumental in the planning, development and implementation of Project CHALENGE (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups) for veterans, a nationwide program that annually assesses the needs of homeless veterans in 170 cities and towns across the U.S. and then develops local action plans to meet those needs.

Burnette currently lives in Inman, South Carolina, and actively works in support of veteran’s issues. He serves as a board member for Mental Health America, Spartanburg, as a consultant for the VA, and is a member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans for the VA. He is also a volunteer with the Upstate Warrior Solution.