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Symposium aims to let veterans know help is available

Event set for Thursday in state capital

People stand on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a shooter opened fire inside a terminal of the airport, killing several people and wounding others before being taken into custody. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
People stand on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after a shooter opened fire inside a terminal of the airport, killing several people and wounding others before being taken into custody. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The cover story in the January issue of Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine is about recognizing the five warning signs of mental illness and PTSD.

The cover, as well as a symposium slated for Thursday in the state capital, were in the works long before Friday’s shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, where a veteran suffering from mental illness is accused of taking five lives, and wounding six other victims.

The purpose of the symposium is to let people know help is available, said Mark Alvarez, the VFW legislative affairs director.
 
“We bottle up a lot of things inside for a lot of years, and I think it’s time it’s all out in the open,” Alvarez said. “There is someone -- we can all come together and someone is listening. And there is help and there is assistance out there for both the veteran and the families. So we want everyone to recognize the five signs of mental illness.”

Those signs include personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and a feeling of hopelessness.