withmichelleobamaWhile sitting in class listening to a lecturing professor one of your classmates starts moving around in her chair more and more. She starts looking around the room frantically and begins to clasp together her hands until her knuckles turn white. Her eyes begin to turn red and swell, and tears begin to roll down her face. Now she is staring at the exit. She seemed fine just a moment ago and no one else in the room is acting like this.

It is not uncommon for Jessica Anne Pounds, Wesleyan junior mass communications major, to get nervous suddenly. Jessica currently has a 3.5 GPA and has made the dean’s list every semester. But Jessica is also a veteran, who is dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

According to PudMedhealth.com, PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after someone has seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.

Pounds said she was diagnosed with PTSD in the summer of 2010, a few months after she was honorably discharged and has struggled with anxiety side effects since her experiences of taking traumatic photographs in combat areas.

“With my anxiety it makes it hard to focus and pay attention to my schoolwork, when my brain is thinking about other things,” Pounds said. “I served in the Navy and was a mass communications specialist who did photo journalism.”

She was deployed to the horn of Africa and the Mediterranean in 2007.

“It was fun because I got to experience different cultures, but it was tough being away from my family,” Pounds said.

“Last year my little brother passed away, two weeks before school started,” Pounds said. “I didn’t want to go back to school, but I did. All of my professors at the time were very helpful.”

Jessica said in an e-mail that there were times right after her brother died when she felt like nothing was worth doing.

“But, I never gave up,” she said. “I pushed myself back into gear, with the help of family and friends, and I have been able to continue being successful with good grades.”

Dr. Kay Colley, assistant chair of mass communications was one of Pounds’ professors at the time.

“Jessica was a good student,” Colley said. “She had several different family members die in one semester, and I think that some of her PTSD issues may have impacted her.”

Despite her personal family losses and her PTSD anxieties, Jessica kept moving forward in life.

“I think she is a very mature person, and she is a professional dealing with her school work as well as her life,” Colley said.

Pounds said she started attending Texas Wesleyan in the fall of 2010.

“Financially, being a veteran who is attending school is beneficial because all my school is 100 percent paid for by the VA [Post 9-11 GI Bill, offered by the Veteran Affairs Office],” Pounds said.

She also said with the housing allowance she receives for the VA for attending school, she is able to go to school and does not have to work, since her husband Jonathan Pounds works full time.

Shonda Christensen, Pounds’ sister-in-law, said Pounds’ faith has helped pull her through the loss of her brother and dealing with her PTSD.

“She has used her relationship with God to bring her inner peace,” Christensen said.

Jessica Pounds is due to Graduate this winter or next spring with a Bachelor in Mass Communication.

“After graduation I plan to work for a small town newspaper or magazine company,” Pounds said.

Her dream job would be working as a public affairs specialist within a major company, perhaps even the police department.

I was diagnosed with PTSD a few months after I was honorably discharged (so in the summer of 2010). I went through a series of tests from doctors through the department of Veterans Affairs.

rrgrounds@txwes.edu