Sunday, March 1, 2009

Valentino Pacheco ~ Homeless Veteran

Random Lengths' Feb. 6-19, 2009 issue's front page featured Valentino Pacheco. Pacheco served "...in the Persian Gulf for three years in the mid-1990's," according to Jillian Sederholm, "Long Beach Reporter".

When Pacheco applied for "non-service related disability benefits" it took a year to be approved and by that time he was already living on the streets. I am not all that sure that his disability ~ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ~ was non-service related. With PTSD "any reminder of the event" that caused the original trauma, or a new event that causes memories of that original trauma to surface is what causes the symptoms.

Most everyone has post trauma stress. It goes away within a few weeks or couple of months. In my words, for some people that original trauma was so horrid to them, it scared them for life. A soldier in war, for instance, is under constant stress. They might not think "My that was so traumatic," at the time of experiencing stuff.

In Pacheco's case, he became a prison guard; there was a riot in the jail; several people got stabbed. It disturbed him so much, he quit the job, becoming a police officer. He started to drink and drug to forget. That got so out-out-of-control, his wife divorced him. It was after that he was diagnosed with PTSD.

Carrying a gun and seeing a daily reminder of the ugly side of life as a cop would be the constant reminder of his Persian Gulf experience. The jail riot was a reminder of service related combat. When those new traumatic or stressful events are exacerbated by the original one, that is when PTS becomes PTSD. The article does not mention if Pacheco experienced hallucinations, which is one symptom of PTSD. Hard to say why some people develop PTSD and others are not affected by new similar traumas.

Pacheco was homeless in Orange County for three years before getting help in Long Beach. I do not recognize his face from the news story photos, but it is possible, he utilized the Santa Ana Winter Shelter the few times I spent there. So many homeless faces! OC has other shelters and Pacheco may never have used them.

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