By: Michelle S. McIntyre-Brewer
Leadership and Individual Giving Manager
United Way of the Capital Region
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly referred to as PTSD, is a very serious psychiatric condition that is the center of a lot of discussions recently due to the re-adjustment phase of Service Members returning from deployment. This article is not a replacement for professional medical advice, rather it is a tool intended to help better educate the reader about PTSD through the sharing of resources currently available.
The National Institutes of Mental Health define PTSD as “an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat” (www.nimh.nih.gov). Only a qualified mental health professional can diagnose PTSD.
Those suffering from PTSD “often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life” (www.ptsd.va.gov). Often, PTSD can be difficult to pinpoint because patients may be dealing with depression, other mental or physical ailments, or abusing substances.
Fortunately for Service Members and their Families, the Department of Defense (DoD) is beginning to recognize PTSD as an issue not to be taken lightly. Although the system still has much work to be done before Service Members and their Families have all the tools they need to cope with PTSD, there are many resources available to them.
There are many Service Members who hesitate to seek out help, fearing that their careers will be damaged or destroyed. This is extremely common and the best way to deal with this type of situation is to become highly educated about the programs available. There are now programs out there that are considered to be non-medical and can assist the Service Member and his/her family in re-integrating into society without being placed into the Service Member’s personnel file.
Below are links to both Government and non-Government agencies that provide information and assistance to help cope with PTSD:
National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder:
Veterans Benefits Administration:
VA Adjustment Counseling Services:
A special thanks to all of the above-mentioned resources. Without the dedication of mental health professionals, committed family members, and other people interested in the welfare and morale of our Service Members, PTSD would continue to be ignored.