Today is the 2nd PTSD Awareness Day. I didn’t know there WAS such a thing, until I checked a site I go to periodically. I remember when these conflicts started PTS (I don’t use the D, I’ve had friends and family ask me not to use it, they aren’t “disordered”!) wasn’t even an acronym in our lexicon. I remember the terrible stories out of Ft. Carson and Hood, Bragg and Benning, about the servicemembers who were suffering from anger outbursts, the murder suicides of families, the depressions and the stories of self-medicating drunken stupors. I remember reading about various military hospitals and commands who were frantically trying to re classify soldiers as having a pre-existing condition and releasing them with “other than honorable” discharges. I remember hearing from a family member of his experience, being handed a huge bottle of Prozac and told to come back when it was empty – no counseling offered.
What a change a few years makes. Gen. Chiarelli talks about PTS, TBI and suicides every chance he gets; high ranking officers and NCOs talk frankly about their own PTS and how they sought help and got it. They are trying really hard to do away with the stigma, and make the seeking of help for a mental health condition into a right and strong thing to do. That’s a huge change!
We keep hearing about resiliency training, about new therapies from acupuncture to canines (hey, what about felines!), cognitive therapy, exercise, yoga, meditation, counseling – every week there is another study. You and I know people with such a diagnosis – I’ve seen huge strides being made, but I know that there is much more to be done. I’m encouraged that the treatments include not only the soldier, but also the family!
So, to paraphrase Rep. Moran, it’s great that there is such a day… but maybe it isn’t. I wish we didn’t need this, I wish we weren’t confronting this every day. But I am glad we aren’t hiding it anymore, that our community has realized that sweeping it under the rug and tossing out those injured in this way is not the right thing to do.