According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can happen to anyone who has suffered through a traumatic event, directly or indirectly. In combat situations, the mind is still reacting instinctively, collecting and storing memories that can be excruciatingly difficult for the warrior to endure during the inevitable recall process. Therefore, the mind’s “filing system” and unintentional memory recall, can elicit great harm to a combat veteran’s mental health and wellbeing.
Veterans suffering from PTSD have recalling prompts, typically referred to as “triggers”, which are linked to situational or emotional experiences and memories from the combat zone.
With advancements in battlefield medicine and technology, an unprecedented percentage of service members are surviving combat injuries that would have previously been fatal. To date, more than 52,000 service members have been physically wounded in the current conflicts, and it is estimated that as many as 400,000 service members live with the invisible wounds of war, including combat stress, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), depression, and PTSD.
With PTSD and TBI being the two most prevailing injuries from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the need for increased resources for PTSD treatment is evident. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, between 11-20 percent of OIF and OEF veterans are diagnosed with PTSD in a given year. These numbers are determined by how the government defines PTSD cases, principally a patient having at least two outpatient visits or one or more hospitalizations at which PTSD was diagnosed. According to the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) 2014 Annual Alumni Survey (www.woundedwarriorproject.org/survey), which measured 21,120 injured veterans, 75.2 percent reported that PTSD was the second most commonly experienced injury and health problem – second only to sleep problems at 75.8 percent.
While these injuries are considered to be the invisible wounds of war, with increased awareness, symptoms could become more noticeable, and treatment more accessible.
“We need to raise awareness and educate the public,” said John Roberts, WWP warrior relations executive vice president and wounded service member. Roberts was medically discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps after suffering third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body from a helicopter crash in the seas of Somalia at the beginning of Operation Restore Hope. Raising awareness and breaking the stigmas associated with PTSD and other invisible wounds of war became one of his life goals. “PTSD is a normal reaction to a very bad situation, and no one should be ashamed of suffering and seeking help. Combat veterans need to know that PTSD does not have to be a lifelong sentence,” Roberts says. “It can be treated and managed. Life can be better.”
May is Mental Health Awareness month. For the full story on PTSD, please visit: www.woundedwarriorproject.org/featured-campaign/casting-light-on-the-invisible-wounds-of-war.aspx. If you or someone you know is interested in PTSD or other mental health support, please contact the WWP Resource Center at [email protected] or 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586).
About Wounded Warrior Project
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.
SOURCE Wounded Warrior Project