KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -- Nothing in the civilian world is quite like combat in a war zone, but a local veteran who serves mental health patients -- military and otherwise -- says the pandemic is now exposing civilians to some of the same emotional trauma veterans have been dealing with for years.

Retired Col. Barry Browning spent 31 years in the United States Army. Among other deployments, he was in Iraq in 2003, 2009 and 2010.

“I was the deputy chief of staff in medical plans and operations for Iraq, as we were starting to do the draw down and exit Iraq,” said Browning.

He’s now the senior administrator in adult psychiatry for the University of Kansas Health System.

Some of veterans’ mental health issues come from the violence they live through. But that’s not all, he says. With so many tours overseas, Browning missed a lot of his daughters’ birthdays, dances and more.

“You’re isolated, you're away from your family, you're away from your support system. People that are non-military during COVID were doing the same thing,” Browning remarked.

In the height of the pandemic, he saw that isolation play out with COVID patients who couldn’t see family and vice versa.

“How many times have you heard the story of a parent that was ill in the hospital and their kids tried to come see them but they couldn't even get in the hospital, be with their parent as they were passing away? Well, that's traumatic,” Browning commented.

Fear of death is something else that came with the territory in the military and crept into civilian life with COVID. He says the PTSD triggers are different, but there are some similarities.

“The effects of it -- nightmares, sleeplessness, anger, isolation, and all these things that can happen -- it can happen to anybody,” Browning said.

If you notice any of those things in someone you know, he says, help them get help, even if it’s just peer support to connect them with someone else who’s had similar experiences.

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