The PTSD Reality

The world has changed dramatically for many Americans ever since the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th, 2001. This is even more of a reality for the men and women who are in our military. Not only are the soldier’s lives changed due to deployment to Middle East to defend our freedom, but that of their families as well.  According to the Congressional Research Service, there are 118,829 incident cases reported among Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan), as well as Operation New Dawn (OND, Iraq) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF, Iraq) of deployed soldiers with active military soldiers suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the year 2000 to January 10, 2014 and 34,157 of soldiers that were not previously deployed (Fischer). Since 2003, about 14% of US Army soldiers have reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder following deployment. Since the attacks of 9/11, more than 2.3 million troops from all military services have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (Negrusa and Negrusa). These deployments have been very traumatic for both the soldiers and their families. These deployments have been more frequent and longer than before the attacks on America.

Post-traumatic stress disorder was formally acknowledged in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association as a recognized disorder; since then, it has become a concept for responses to stresses originating with traumatic events such as abuse, rape, accidents, torture, violent incidents, natural disasters like hurricanes, and war (Miller and Johnson). R.J. Landy suffered PTSD after the events of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Some symptom he experienced were sleepless nights and nightmares, poor diet and nonspecific ailments, irritability at home, overindulgence in work and distancing from intimates (J.Landy).  As Landy, many Americans suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder, and this includes tens of thousands of our military men and women that are still active in serving in the various branches of our military. The major symptoms of PTSD include (a) re-experiencing symptoms, such as flashbacks, intrusive memories and dissociative experiences, (b) avoidance symptoms, including numbing, isolation and avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event and (c) hyper-arousal symptoms, including sleep disturbance, anxiety, anger, impulsivity and startle responses (Miller and Johnson).

I have seen this first hand with my brother-n-law who is a Staff Sargent in the U. S. Army. A social need for this population is that in order to protect themselves from pain, they dissociate themselves from their traumatic experience through amnesia or isolation. They often alienate themselves from everyone, including their close relatives. The traumatized persons feel alienated from “normal” people, who will never be able to understand what they have gone through. PTSD patients will become intolerant of others as a result of the shame evoked by having participated in the horror (Miller and Johnson).  Unfortunately, the psychological effects of post-deployment PTSD, not only affects the soldiers but their families as well. When these soldiers return home, their symptoms can come between them and their families and this is evident with the divorce rate within serving soldiers. Negrusa found that a longer time in deployment substantially increased the probability for divorce, with the effect being stronger for females and for members who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (Negrusa and Negrusa).

My brother in law has recently retired but living with PTSD is not easy. A day in his life…

The PTSD reality

The PTSD reality

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Fischer, Hannah. A Guide to U.S. Military Casuality Statistics: Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. 19 02 2014. Research Document. 25 October 2014. <http://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22452.pdf&gt;.
J.Landy, Robert. “Sifting Through the Images-A Drama Therapist’s Response to the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.” The Arts Psychotherapy 2002: 135-141.
Miller, James and David Read Johnson. “Drama Therapy in the Treatment f Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” The Arts of Psychotherapy 1997: 383*395.
Morgan, C. A. and D. R. Johnson. “Use of a Drawing Task in the Treatment of Nightmares in Combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association 12 (1995): 244-247.
Negrusa, Brighita and Sebastian Negrusa. “Home Front: Post-Deplyment Mental Health and Divorces.” Demography 30 April 2014: 895-916.
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One thought on “The PTSD Reality

  1. Thank you so very much for the insite. I too have a family memeber w/PTSD and wasn’t really aware of the extend of his suffering. I now understand it fully thanks to you. Much appreciated

    MariaJose

    Like

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