Our veterans are hiding some very difficult things from the world, because of a fear of stereotyping and misunderstanding.
It’s an ailment that so many people have heard of, but so few seem to understand: post traumatic stress disorder. Huge numbers of veterans battle PTSD every day, and many feel totally alone – and a good portion eventually give up on life, a tragic reality in America today. But experts think that if awareness and understanding of PTSD was improved, fewer veterans would take their own lives, and many would get the treatment they need.
A Veterans Administration study from August found that an average of 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014, with a good portion likely suffering from PTSD, a heavily misunderstood and stigmatized condition. Veterans who have it often develop psychiatric problems and turn to alcohol or drugs.
Fortunately, there is some hope in the mental health community, where new methods are helping to recognize and treat veterans who are suffering from PTSD. Still, we have a long way to go before we can understand the link between trauma, PTSD and suicide, and much work will have to be done.
“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a trauma. A trauma is a shocking and dangerous event that you see or that happens to you. During this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger,” according to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statement. “Going through trauma is not rare. About 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury. PTSD can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will develop PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. For example, if you were directly exposed to the trauma or injured, you are more likely to develop PTSD.”