Australian veterans are learning an unexpected new skill to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Once called “shell shock” or “battle fatigue,” the condition can actually affect anyone, including non-soldiers, who have experienced stressful, terrifying or life-threatening ordeals.
People who have PTSD, like veteran Dan O’Connor, may have symptoms like flashbacks, negative moods and avoiding situations that may remind them of the event. O’Connor and other vets in Cuppacumbalong are using knife-making to deal with the condition.
“It’s almost like meditating. And they reckon that’s good for you, so it’s got to be good for you too, right?” O’Connor told the Associated Press.
The program is sponsored by Australia’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs to allow former soldiers to heal and transition back into civilian life.
“These people have had a really important job where they’ve had a lot of responsibility,” blacksmith Karim Haddad told the Associated Press. “They’ve relied on each other for their lives, they’ve come back to civilian life and it’s just gone all quiet. And so to then come out and do something and feel worthwhile again is really important.”
Each veteran walks away from the workshop with their own handmade knife. But it’s not just a tool, it’s a symbol.
“Every time you use that, you feel worthwhile and valuable every single day,” Haddad said. “You get reminded that … you’re competent.”
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