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Congressman Kildee goes public on PTSD from U.S. Capitol attack

Detroit Free Press - 4/12/2021

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee has been seeing a therapist to help him with PTSD resulting from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the Michigan congressman told MSNBC.

Kildee's decision to go public about his experience drew plaudits from those who see it as a huge step forward in removing stigma from mental health issues.

Kildee, D-Flint Township, was trapped inside the House chamber as a pro-Trump mob tried to force its way inside the chamber while Capitol police barricaded the doors and took other steps to try to prevent such a breach. One police officer and one rioter were killed in the attack.

On Monday, Kildee and his therapist joined "Hallie Jackson Reports" on MSNBC.

After the event, “I thought I was fine," Kildee said.

"It was after I got home and I started looking at some of the video from the event. I thought it was a few dozen people. It was hundreds and hundreds of people, violent people, and that triggered an emotional and physical reaction. I had a lot of tension in my chest and breathing was difficult. I became really irritable.”

More: Friday's attack is the latest violence at the US Capitol, the site of shootings, bombings and riots over the last 50 years

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Kildee said a friend in Congress suggested he reach out to Dr. Jim Gordon, the author of “Transforming Trauma,” who has worked with survivors of traumatic events around the world, from the massacres during the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo to the 2018 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Kildee called Gordon and the doctor recognized signs of post-traumatic stress and a condition known as "hyper vigilance." Gordon, who also appeared on the program, said symptoms can arise from such situations when feelings of fight or flight get prolonged.

Kildee said he held sessions with Gordon almost every Saturday, learned meditation techniques and other skills, and now hopes to organize group sessions for colleagues in Congress.

Kildee's interview drew praise Monday.

"What a gift Rep. Dan Kildee has given us — opening up about therapy over 1/6 PTSD to fight the stigma around mental health care," tweeted Ron Fournier, president of the Lansing public affairs firm Truscott Rossman.

Kildee said: “This is not something I ever expected to experience, not something that I anticipated. We all carry it around with us, every one of us… it’s a day I’ll never forget.”

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4. Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Congressman Kildee goes public on PTSD from U.S. Capitol attack


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