Pilot program for veteran PTSD treatment expanding across the state

Published: May. 30, 2022 at 10:39 PM CDT

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - More Alabama veterans can now access a treatment to fight symptoms of PTSD.

Currently, the treatment is only available in Cullman County as part of a pilot program.

“My wife would have probably buried me four years ago.”

Army Veteran Brian Monk says a new PTSD treatment saved his life. He’s not alone.

“We know we have prevented at least 14 suicides in just Cullman County,” said Retired Air Force Colonel Ken Brown.

The treatment is administered through a shot.

“It’s called the Stellate Ganglion Blockage shot. It is a shot of novocaine type of material to the nerve in the neck. It controls the fighter flight portion of the brain. It basically resets the nervous system,” said Brown.

Alabama lawmakers have allocated $200,000 to make a limited number of treatments free for the SBG pilot program. Brown says the data collected this year will hopefully result in more funding for Alabama Veterans.

“We have sat around 200 people to get the shot so far. We have had very good success; around 80 to 90 percent of them do not have another shot for about another year.”

Brown says it’s not a cure, but it’s better than the alternatives.

“It certainly seems to be a more effective treatment than the depression and antipsychotic meds they are being administered through the VA.”

Although the program is expanding to veterans across the state... there are several steps a veteran or first responder must do to get it.

First, they must travel to Cullman VFW Wellstone Center for an evaluation. Then they will be directed to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham actually to get the shot.

If you are interested you can call Wellstone or the Cullman County VFW. If you suffer from PTSD and are skeptical about whether SGB may be right for you, the Cullman VFW holds an SGB support group every night at 7 p.m.

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