Tonight Soledad O’Brien will host a one hour special on CNN, The War Comes Home, which follows the journeys of two young veterans, Delon Beckett and Garrett Combs, who came home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to discover that PTSD had turned their lives upside down and smashed them.
Within a few months of coming home, they realized that their marriages were falling apart, their children were frightened of the way their father would fly into a rage over nothing, and both men found themselves considering suicide as a solution.
As Soledad O’Brien says, “These two strong young men went to war to serve their country, but were overcome by the ravages of war. Through the riveting stories of these men, and their families, our hope is that people will understand how truly awful post traumatic stress is, how destructive it is for families, how it robs potential from lives, and how we have it within our power as a society to help these veterans.”
But these aren’t isolated stories.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 8,000 American combat veterans of all U.S. wars take their own lives every year, and 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
According to a Rand Corporation study, cited by CNN, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a significant predictor of suicide among veterans, and one out of every five veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, or severe depression; all of which have been linked to higher suicide rates.
The War Comes Home debuts on Tuesday, Aug. 12 at 9:00 pm EDT/6:00 pm PDT and CNN will rebroadcast the program at 12:00 am EDT/9:00 pm PDT, and on Sunday, Aug. 17 at 7:00 pm/4:00 pm PDT. Check your local listings for any time changes.
The War Comes Home will also be available on simulcast, through CNNx for iPad, via CNN’s mobile applications, and you can also go to www.cnn.com and select “Watch CNN.”
“PTSD is not going away. It is chronic and prolonged, and for Veterans with PTSD, the war is not over."
The CNN program dovetails incredibly well with the findings of a study presented last Friday at the American Psychological Association Convention in Washington, D.C. by Dr. William Schlenger, Dr. Nida Corry, and Dr. Norah Mulvaney-Day.
The National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study (NVVLS) found that Vietnam Veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have a much greater risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases and that they have a nearly two times higher risk of death than Vietnam Veterans who do not suffer from PTSD.
The study also found that PTSD was associated with increased mortality due to cancer and external causes of death (accidents, etc.).
Dr. Schlenger said that "For warzone veterans, PTSD is associated with increased risk for multiple chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, nervous system disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders."
Dr. Norah Mulvaney-Day added, "Male warzone Veterans with PTSD also are very likely to talk about behavioral health concerns during these visits, compared to those without PTSD".
Dr. Schlenger summarized the findings when he said "The study's key takeaway is that for some, PTSD is not going away. It is chronic and prolonged, and for Veterans with PTSD, the war is not over."