Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common psychological injury sustained by approximately 25% of our military service members who see combat. PTSD has devastating effects on those who suffer from it and their family members. The symptoms, such as hyper-alertness, dissociation, sleeplessness, and emotional detachment, give rise to even more serious problems like alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, domestic violence – and even suicide. There is no “cure” for PTSD.
The good news is that it is possible to help our veterans with PTSD find hope and healing. To do this, there are many hurdles that have to be overcome:
- Those suffering from PTSD withdraw from their family, friends and community just when they need help the most.
- There is a stigma attached to psychological injuries that keeps many from getting help.
- Warriors and their families need absolute confidentiality.
There are many different effective therapies for PTSD, ranging from traditional group therapy, to medications, to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Before any of these therapies can be used, though, Warriors have to realize that they are not alone with their problems and that there is a trustworthy community out there to help them.
- The RAND Corporation estimates more than 300,000 Afghanistan and Iraq veterans suffer from PTSD, depression, and/or other psychological injuries.
- As of January 2008, less than 68,000 Afghanistan and Iraq veterans were being treated for psychological injuries.
- PTSD symptoms worsen over time if not treated.
- Length of exposure to combat trauma (i.e. on account of longer tours of duty) is directly related to the chances of developing PTSD.
- At Fort Campbell, the divorce rate for Soldiers undergoing multiple deployments is reaching 85%.
- In January this year, eight Soldiers at Fort Campbell took their own lives. They were part of the highest rate of suicide ever recorded by the Army.
Calvin is a former infantry soldier who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He witnessed as fellow soldiers got hit, and when he came home, his marriage broke up. For years, he was unable to sleep or connect emotionally to anyone. Finally, his second wife pushed him to get therapy. Now, Calvin is happily married with three children and works in small business.
- Help reduce the stigma and change attitudes of PTSD, as well as other mental conditions and illnesses.
- Support The Not Alone Fund at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
- Inform yourself about veteran’s issues.
- Reach out to veterans and their families – just let them know they’re not alone.
- Give financial support to organizations helping Warriors and families adjusting to life after deployment.