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Today, June 27, 2014, is National “PSTD Awareness Day”

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The National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD). has designated June 27, 2014 as National “PSTD Awareness Day” and the month of June as National PTSD Awareness Month.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event such as: Combat exposure; Child sexual or physical abuse; Terrorist attack; Sexual or physical assault; Serious accidents (like a car wreck) and Natural disasters (like a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake).”

The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) breaks down the symptoms of PTSD into three categories: Re-experiencing symptoms, Avoidance symptoms and Hyperarousal symptoms. The VA also states that PTSD affects up to 20% of 2.8 million men and women (560,000) who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

After the second Fort Hood shooting on April 2, 2014 it was reported that, prior to his shooting rampage, Army Spec. Ivan Lopez was being treated for mental health issues often associated with PTSD. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor on September 15, 2011, cautioned everyone that linking Lopez's actions to treatment for PTSD might inhibit other veterans from seeking needed help.

In fact, veterans advocates rushed forward to fight the “Rambo narrative” that was easily being associated with these military tragedies “saying too often the grim guessing games end up stereotyping all veterans, and scaring many away from seeking mental health help.” The “Rambo narrative” is the term used to describe veterans as “deranged killers suffering from post-traumatic stress, ready to explode in the workplace or at home.”

Another problem that has been a source of stigma is the “D” in PTSD. Many veterans may resist seeking necessary care because they believe the word “disorder” does not fit their concept of their affliction.

Indeed, General (Ret) Peter Chiarelli, the former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, has advocated dropping the word “disorder” because it perpetuates a bias and “has the connotation of being something that is a pre-existing problem that an individual has” before they came into the Army and “makes the person seem weak.” Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) was proposed as one possible change in the terminology.

What is interesting is that the term PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) was mentioned in a two-part 2012 episode of "NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service", Psychiatrist Lt. Commander Peter Sanger said in Shell Shock: Part I, to Special Agent L.J. Gibbs, “The hardest part is asking for help. PTS is a complicated disorder affecting many of our military's finest” and in Part II, he said, “Even with regular therapy, the healing process will be rocky...hypervigilence (and) re-experiencing are both symptoms...Two objectives in the treatment of PTS: re-discover sense of purpose; rebuild trust.”

Some of us older veterans still suffer from PTSD and we urge anyone with the symptoms should not delay in seeking help. We know that the symptoms of PTSD may not arise until years after the incident(s) in which you were involved. We remind you that if you are suffering from PTSD, PTSI or PTS, your family and loved ones
are also suffering.

So remember, getting treatment for yourself is also helping them – so, please do not delay.

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