By, Jay H. Berman, “Guest columnist.”
Publisher, Ron Tenin on twitter @rpt62960
Severe trauma in some form is experienced by significant numbers of individuals at least once in their lifetime, according to The American Psychological Association, The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), & The PTSD-Alliance amongst many others. Mental healthcare providers agree that most rebound from the trauma fairly quickly. Not so for too many who were in combat.
PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is NOT a phenomenon that was born in Vietnam. In the aftermath of WWI & WWII American’s heard the names, “Shell-shock & Battle-fatigue.” Vets of war in Korea must be included in the discussion. Fast forward to S.E. Asia & the dreaded disease is now known as PTSD. The U.S. government refused to acknowledge this fact for a disgraceful period of time, (which for the afflicted is one day)!
Finally, too late for our brave warriors of that terrible time, the U.S. government eventually accepted what Vets & their loved ones already tragically knew. This is factual history, disheartening though it may be. But the result of prior refusal to acknowledge the plight of Vets suffering from war’s devastation in this manner continues. There are Vietnam Vets still residing on the streets of America!
It must be noted that most individuals after experiencing extreme trauma do not develop PTSD. These include horrific vehicular accidents, exposure to weather that culminates in tornados, hurricanes, flooding or worse, severe abuse, other acts of violence & the list goes on.
Although not every Vet develops PTSD, as a nation we have a moral obligation to familiarize ourselves with it. We have a duty as citizens to reach out to our Vets & help in any way possible. We must insist that our government does a better job of providing U.S. Vets with all they need.
I’m here speaking for myself & no one else. These are my values – they may or not be yours & I accept that. With proper respect for 1st. responders, teachers, dedicated healthcare providers & so very many other great American’s, – our military men & women are priority one in my opinion.
What is PTSD & why can it last for a lifetime? Symptomology is characterized by flashbacks – [reliving the experience accompanied by audio& /or visual application(s)], depression, acute anxiety, episodic uncontrollable rage, appearance in some cases of psychotic features, isolation, eating disorders, racing thoughts, & tragically for huge numbers of those so afflicted – results in homelessness, domestic violence, unhealthy sexual behaviors &/or addiction, (in any of its forms).
Small percentages of mental healthcare providers are specially trained to diagnose & treat PTSD. This contributes to a lack of care whose result is long term illness. Over-lapping symptoms may cause misdiagnosis & again, non-application of helpful treatment. These are two extremely important factors, because they are solvable with the will to do so. PTSD is treatable.
Unfortunately, the nature of this still misunderstood mental illness is that it may be arrested only to return later.
A buddy of mine who served honorably in Vietnam returned home in one piece & resumed civilian life. He married, pursued a respectable profession & contributed to his community. Nearly three decades later he became symptomatic. Today he is better. But, severe stress continues to trigger symptoms. He copes as best he can, sometimes requiring hospitalization. A courageous man, he gets back on his feet each time – fighting the good fight.
This is what I hope you consider today.
I thank Ron Tenin for graciously allowing me the opportunity to address his audience. This is his blog & an excellent one.
Jay is on twitter @BermanJ1