PTSD by the Numbers: Battling Post Traumatic Stress

Nearly 20 per cent of returning military service members report symptoms of PTSD.
3:00 | 02/03/13

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Transcript for PTSD by the Numbers: Battling Post Traumatic Stress
Navy s.E.A.L. Chris kyle often said himself how difficult it was for troops to return from war. From serving the greater good, he said, overseas, to serving their own good once home. And this number tonight, nearly 20% of returning troops suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and they're the ones we know about. Abc's chief global aff correspondent martha rad atsz in the middle east tonight reporting in on what just might be an invisible epidemic. Reporter: For our veterans, for anyone suffering post-traumatic stress, it is a feeling of powerlessness, numbness, your mind frozen in battles long ago. I couldn't stop thinking about iraq. I really didn't care any more. I just felt empty. I was just a shell walking. Reporter: Former marine brendan schnitzel is one of 70,000 service members in the last decade who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. 70,000. With it can come depression, substance abuse, anger management, suicide. I was constantly feeling anxious. I constantly felt like something bad was going to happen. Reporter: It is too early to tell whether ptsd or mental health issues contributed to today's horrific murders, but it has happened before. In 2007 a mentally unstable army sergeant went on a killing rampage in a combat stress facility at his base in iraq. And retired staff sergeant robert miltonberger who received a silver star for saving countless lives in a hellish 2004 battle in iraq was later diagnosed with ptsd. He says he now avoids firearms, fearing he could hurt someone. If I had a gun and someone was threatening me, I could picture me shootim and i can see the bullets going in him and the blood coming out and all that. Reporter: Ptsd is not new, but with tens of thousands now coming home, the fear is that we still don't know enough about it. We are in the dark in our ability to treat post-traumatic stress to a level that we can guarantee most individuals who have it can recover from it. And martha joins us now from the mideast tonight where she's spent the decade covering those wars. What struck us today was that chris kyle, known for his outreach, known for helping soldiers traumatized by war. You have to wonder if he couldn't get through, what should we do as a nation, what do we need to be doing? I think what we have to do is exactly what chris kyle wanted to do. There has to be some sort of outreach to america's veterans. We have to figure out what the problem is. Some of the people in that piece, two of the young men, have been in therapy, intense therapy. They've turned their lives around. So it can work, it does work. We can't look at our veterans as victims. We can't look at them all as crazy. Therapy does work. We just have to figure out what kind of therapy and take care of them when they do come home.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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