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Injection helping veterans manage PTSD symptoms

A stellate ganglion injection can treat symptoms of PTSD and help veterans transition back to civilian life.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — A veteran who got a life-changing injection is now spreading the word to help others.

The insulin treatment helped lower his stress levels and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Army Sergeant Sean Messett served for half a decade, being deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Being in that situation, to home in a couple days, it doesn't hit you that you made it."

To say a lot had changed when he returned from war would be an understatement. 

"It was essentially the first time I met my daughter," Messett said. "Because I missed her birth while I was gone. "

Like so many of his fellow veterans, he was battling PTSD. 

"You can't really process it so you just compartmentalize it," Messett said. "You burry it. And you just do your best to be who everybody wants you to be."

He tried therapy and medication management, but it was what he heard on a podcast that ended up turning his life around.

"He was discussing an injection he just got," the veteran recalled. "SBG—which is an insulin shot that goes into the side of your neck and resets your fight or flight response."

SBG stands for stellate ganglion block. According to the PTSD Group, the treatment works by "regulat[ing] the 'fight or flight' mechanism which is known to play a key role in PTSD and triggering the associated symptoms."

Patients receive an injection of a local anesthetic to the stellate ganglion nerves in the neck, which "reboots" the system.

Sean researched to find the injection could be costly—and isn't covered by insurance or the Veteran's Association.

But that's where Christine Waltz—from Hanover's For the Love of a Veteran Inc.—came in.

"She found the doctor, she found the clinic, she found the money, " Messett said. 

Last June, Sean received the injection in New York City. 

"Immediately after the procedure... it was just euphoric," the veteran said. "Just a sense of all the weight I was carrying around was released." 

He said it allowed him to reconnect with those around him—most importantly, his now 11-year-old daughter, Rosalie. 

"That's when I really let the emotion come out—just crying and feeling so good," the father said. "The other best part... I slept for hours and I hadn't slept in years."

Now that he's found a sense of peace, he wants all veterans to be better equipped in their fight against the disorder. 

"The injection is not a cure-all," Messett said. "It's a tool. It's the best tool you can possibly get for PTSD." 

For the Love of a Veteran has helped more than 200 veterans and active duty members receive the injection—free of charge.

"If we save one life, we're doing something right," Waltz said.

To get connected to the organization, visit their website.

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