In WWI it was called Shell Shock; in WWII, Battle Fatigue. Korean War veterans were diagnosed with War Neurosis, and Vietnam vets with Post-Vietnam Syndrome. Whatever you call it, Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), as it’s now known, continues to affect hundreds of thousands of veterans.
Today is PTSD Awareness Day, a day to speak up about post-traumatic stress, a condition that’s underreported, misdiagnosed, and, so often, misunderstood.
PTS BY THE NUMBERS:
- 10-13% of combat veterans experience post-traumatic stress in their lifetimes.
- Studies estimate that 1 in 5 military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has PTS.
- PTS affects to 20% of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans; 10% of Gulf War veterans, and 30% of Vietnam War veterans.
- 17% of combat troops are women; 71% of female military personnel develop PTS due to sexual assault within the ranks.
- The number of diagnosed cases of PTS in the military jumped 50% in the past year.
SEPARATING MYTH FROM FACT
The psychological scars of post-traumatic stress may be invisible, but its manifestations are not. Left untreated, it can lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse, or suicide. Despite its prevalence, post-traumatic stress is often ignored, misinterpreted, and sensationalized by the media.
Listening to the stories of veteran experiencing post-traumatic stress can help us separate myth from fact.
MYTH: People begin experiencing PTS immediately after a traumatic event.
FACT: Sometimes symptoms surface months or years after a traumatic event or returning from deployment.
“ I was sober and clean almost 11 years, and I just couldn’t handle it no more, you know, my life. I couldn’t hold a job. I always had problems sleeping…very irritable, the whole bit. Plus, my family was always telling me I should go get some help.”
US Navy ((1971 – 1972))
SN, Ammunition Transporter
MYTH: Service members can never fully recover from PTS.
FACT: When people seek help and maintain a treatment program, post-traumatic stress symptoms can be managed or overcome entirely.
“My ability to overcome the situations that cause me to act negatively and not beneficial to me, are up to me, and I continue to seek treatment. I want to make a choice, not have my depression make the choice.”