Somewhere in the back of Iraq veteran Marck Bonifacio's civilian mind he knows there's no need to be checking for roadside bombs as he drives along I-15 through Utah. But he does.
Bonifacio says he has symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which includes hypervigilance, but he hasn't been diagnosed with PTSD.
Instead, he's having what the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research calls adjustment or transition issues.
The military hopes it can help soldiers like Bonifacio, who admits to dealing with feelings of anger these days, by showing them a video presentation called "Battlemind." Brochures and other "Battlemind" materials, both for soldiers and their families, are also available on the Web.
"I have a hard time in crowds," he said after a screening of "Battlemind" at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City.
The post-deployment Bonifacio gets uncomfortable and wants to leave if there are too many people in a room. It can make life difficult, the Orem resident added, when he wants to go somewhere in public with his wife and five children.
Steven Allen, PTSD program coordinator for the VA in Utah, described a different soldier who e-mailed his buddies in Iraq every day after his deployment and didn't match that amount of attention with his own family back home. The video is designed to root out those kind of interpersonal imbalances.
Bonifacio said "Battlemind" has helped him since he returned to his Orem home in April after a year in Iraq, where he worked convoy security near Mosul with the Utah National Guard. His full-time job back home is in technical support for Dell.
His military mindset and mannerisms are still very much front and center. He's aware, for example, that he still assumes a rigid or defensive posture while standing around casually talking to people.
But being aware of adjustment issues, leaning on peers and family for support and knowing where to go for help has helped Brazilian-born Bonifacio, who credits being shown "Battlemind" before, during and after his deployment.
The presentation features four video vignettes that depict situations where the actors simulate soldiers who are having trouble adjusting to civilian life. In the videos they drink to cope, snap at family and friends, anger easily, have nightmares or they're afraid to show weakness. One actor in a video even carries a gun with him to a picnic.
"Battlemind" also points out that skills used in a military setting may not mesh well in a home environment unless they're adapted. Now the video, which provides advice about how to adapt those skills, is easily accessible to vets by visiting the Web site, www.battlemind.org.
Utah Veterans Affairs director Terry Schow is also making a pitch for more funding to build more veterans centers where, if people need help or counseling right away, they'll have more resources to make the right contacts.
"The challenge is, there's never enough dollars," Schow said about the need for new centers in the north and south areas of Utah. Filling that gap with people power, transition assistance adviser Bart Davis offered himself up as a veterans "concierge," whose Web address is www.utvethelp
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