Wednesday, September 10, 2008

PTSD, part 1

From the Billings Gazette:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently has been urging troops to seek treatment instead of trying to ignore the problem. "You're tough and you go into the hospital when you receive a physical wound," Gates said on a visit to a Texas Army post. "That doesn't mean you're weak in some way, and so why wouldn't you when you've received a psychological wound? It's the same difference. They're all wounded."

From an editorial in the Dallas Morning News:

A mental health crisis has been brewing for years in the U.S. military, despite commanders' best efforts to hide it. At long last, Pentagon leaders have begun speaking openly about post-traumatic stress disorder and encouraging troops to seek help.

As recently as last year, according to a Pentagon study, the prevailing mentality at U.S. bases was to deny PTSD's existence and even punish service members who sought help. The attitude was reminiscent of World War II, when Gen. George S. Patton slapped soldiers seeking help for "combat fatigue."

Troops say they fear losing promotions or security clearances if they mention PTSD. Many have suffered in silence, often with such tragic consequences as suicide, homicide or fits of violent rage. Attempted suicides among veterans now run about 1,000 a month, a grim statistic the Veterans Administration tried to keep secret until recently.

Studies indicate that a quarter to 38 percent of the 1.6 million who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer serious mental health problems, but fewer than half are willing to seek help.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, launched a campaign last week to change the military's outdated attitude. ... Adm. Mullen told reporters in Washington that "it's way past time" for the military to recognize the war's toll "inside our minds, as well as outside our bodies." But it's unrealistic to "expect a private or a specialist to be willing to seek counseling when his or her captain or colonel or general won't do it."

By ending its own state of denial, the Pentagon is taking a healthy first step toward ending PTSD's stigma and getting troops the treatment they deserve.


kbug said...

Good for's about time.

ABNPOPPA said...


Good start. As you know a big part of the job is getting the young men and women to go. There is sooo much pride in them and they think they can handle anything after tours and multiple tours of duty.

Airborne dad said...

If only the memo would get down to the platoon level. Then we would see real progress.

MightyMom said...

well, like my earlier comment.

urge your soldiers to seek the help they need. and I still hear you say "yeah right, Sarah,.....tell a combat vet they need help, noted."

all I can do is pray.

which I do do, often.