CONYERS Ga. (CBS46) -- May is mental health awareness month and its estimated that up to 20% of veterans suffer with PTSD.

Those numbers can be broken down by conflict with each war averaging anywhere from 11-20% of vets with PTSD. But, what about those who didn't go to war and still suffered trauma.

For most a garden is just that, garden but for one veteran suffering with PTSD her garden has been her saving grace.

“This is so therapeutic,” said Air Force veteran Isna T. Summerlin. “I've gone through a lot of darkness and I see me emerging just like these radishes” added Summerlin who says her battle with PTSD goes back decades.

“I’ve been fighting literally since 2001 to get compensation for the post traumatic stress disorder”, Summerlin added.

She says during her time serving the country she experienced several traumatic situations that changed her life. Her thought process was different and her reactions were beyond her control.

“It just put me in a whole different mindset, that had me mentally imbalanced and irrationally doing things in an OCD type style. Once diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder I have never been able to hold a job for any length of time because the trauma comes with triggers”, she added.

Naturally she turned to the VA but her claim for assistance kept being denied, among reasons given for the denial was the fact that her trauma did not occur while at war. A problem Jim Lindenmayer with the Cherokee County Homeless Veterans program says is not uncommon.

“What we‘ve found out in the case of the women were working with that have MST and PTSD is that they’re actually paying for their own external type of mental health because the VA is not providing it when the VA should be paying them for it so there’s a disconnect between what they need and what they’re getting,” said Lindenmayer.

As for Summerlin, even though a portion of her claim was approved back in December, the entire compensation application has been remanded back for review with no time line of when it would be processed.

“Trauma doesn’t have a look, most times they want to represent veterans as only homeless people, only people who walk around with no teeth or hair, just unkempt, that is not the face of trauma the face of trauma looks like me.

CBS46 reached out to the VA and they say they’re looking into the matter, we will continue to follow up to make sure the veteran gets results.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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