ABOUT POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS
Post-traumatic Stress is a normal and predictable response to overwhelming, uncontrollable, potentially life-threating events including war zone duty, natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse or terrible accidents.
War Trauma Focus Group
Although a single instance of overwhelming terror can alter the chemistry of the brain, making people more sensitive to adrenaline surges even decades later, developing PTSD from one incident is rare. But if trauma happens over and over, even if each event is not catastrophic, a person is likely to get PTSD. The brain and the body do not get to rest and recuperate between times of high alert and terror such as in a war zone. Hypervigilance becomes a constant, even when no danger is actually present. Hypervigilance alone makes life unpleasant and sometimes terrible, constantly holding ready for the disaster that is around every corner. Hypervigilance alone can cause other problems as every nerve, every synapse, every muscle, uses all the energy a body can produce.
Because of the constant state of arousal, anger comes easily and without warning, and the ringing of the telephone causes you to jump out of your skin. You can’t fall asleep, if you do, you can’t stay asleep. Even if you sleep you can’t rest. You are tense all the time, even if you hide it from others. All your energy goes to staying alert, and you are preoccupied with keeping flashbacks at bay--- all the while trying to maintain a reasonable facade.
Dr. Reid Lyons, a Vietnam Combat veteran with PTSD and is one of the nation’s foremost research scholars in the field of the neurobiology of PTSD
Staff Sgt. Ty Carter has two words for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, “get help”.
Carter developed post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD after his experiences at Combat Outpost Keating, where he said every day was “like the Wild Wild West.” Fire fights were a constant, and October 3, 2009 conditions escalated to the extreme when more than 300 anti-Afgan forces attempted to overrun the outpost of 53 men.
Despite his many heroic actions during battle, Cater was haunted by the fact that he wasn’t able to save his friend, Spc. Stephen Mace. He no longer felt equipped to save a life and he felt like a failure, “I lost faith in who I was and what I was doing.”
At first he resisted getting treatment for PTSD, and had a misconception about the condition. It isn’t really a disorder, Carter pointed out, it is a learning mechanism to help us avoid danger. However, it can become problematic following extreme trauma.
He said seeking counseling and going through counseling is a difficult process but it is the only way to heal, and it is the only way you can help yourself and help others. “Education is the only thing that can end the stigma,” Carter said.
feeling this way
toward those whom they are closest
drugs as a “self-medication” to blunt their emotions and
forget the trauma
resolved by withdrawing emotionally or even by becoming
which they felt during the trauma. They become sweaty, have
trouble breathing, have increased heart rates, feel dizzy, and
have stomachaches and headaches
individual actually thinks they are experiencing the trauma
again or seeing it unfold before their eyes
Suicides and Military
Repeated tours have driven up the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder, which in turn, generates an increase in suicide attempts among those suffering from PTSD
Time’s Battleland News Magazine 6/8/12
The number of young veterans committing suicide jumped dramatically from 2009 to 2011. Data released in January 2014 by the Veterans Affairs showed that the rate of veteran suicide remained largely unchanged over that three year period. About 22 veterans a day take their own life according to the department’s estimates. The pressures of leaving military careers, readjusting to civilian life and combat injuries like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder all play a role in problems facing young male vets.
Stars and Stripes, 1/9/14
“The good news is that officials have seen a decrease in suicide rates of veterans who seek care within the VA health system. Of the 22 deaths a day, only about five are patients in the health system.” “What we are seeing is getting help does matter. Treatment does work.” “The Challenge is expanding that outreach. Persuading younger veterans to seek care remains particularly problematic, because of stigma associated with mental health problems”.
Jan Kemp, VA’s National Mental Health Director for Suicide Prevention--- Stars and Stripes, 1/9/14
Suicides across the military have dropped by more than 22 percent in 2013 defense officials said, amid an array of new programs targeting what the Defense Department calls an epidemic that took more service members’ lives in 2012 than the war in Afghanistan did during that same period. In 2012 suicides spiked to 349, the highest since the Pentagon began tracking the numbers in 2001. The Department offered hope that after several years of studies, the escalating emphasis on prevention across all the services may finally be taking hold.
From the Department of Defense as reported by the Associated Press 11/11/13
Almost three-quarters of the troops who commit suicide do not inform others they are thinking about harming themselves, according to the latest Department of Defense Suicide Event report. In light of that, the military now trains troops to be vigilant for signs of suicidal tendencies among comrades.
The San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/5/13
“Here you are, you went to war and you killed the enemy and performed wonderfully. And now you have some very human moments, feelings and emotions.” “It is a perfect storm because a lot of them haven’t been reporting their psychological problems, their alienation, because the very fact that the services may seize on that to make them part of the downgrade and let them go.” “Many service members are fearful about being forced out of the military for psychological problems, that is devastating for Marines and soldiers and corpsmen who want to stay in.” “The official Marine Corps suicide prevention program counsels that “leaders teach that knowing when to seek help for stress is a trait of a strong committed Marine.”
Bill Rider, chief executive and cofounder of American Combat Veterans of War, USMC Sgt Vietnam 1968-69… The San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/5/13
The Marines have updated an alcohol abuse and prevention campaign and now also requires that every battalion and squadron have a suicide prevention program officer.
Adam Walsh, Marine Corp’s Community Counseling and Prevention Programs---Associated Press, 11/11/13
Because for the stigma against asking for help and fear of career repercussions, the Marine Corps has mandated yearly “Never Leave a Marine Behind” suicide prevention training for all Marines.
The San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/5/13
“The Army has certified nearly 2,500 military and civilian leaders to be able to interact with soldiers on suicide prevention, and has conducted thousands of hours of training with the troops.” “Suicide remains a daunting issue for the Army and the nation and “defies easy solutions.” “The service has expanded soldiers’ access to behavioral health services to improve their ability to cope with the stress that can be caused by separation, deployments, financial pressures, other work-related issues and relationships.”
Paul Price, Army spokesman, Associated Press, 11/11/13
The Army has spent tens of millions of dollars in a long-term study of suicide, teaming with the National Institute of Health, and has developed a comprehensive program of installing emotional resilience in soldiers. “I think we have hit the turning point where people are really, really talking about behavioral health and the fact that it is OK to have problems. It’s what you do with those problems that’s important.”
Lt General Howard Bromberg, chief of Army personnel Stars and Stripes, 1/9/14
Among the Navy’s numerous assistance and educational programs is ACT, which urges awareness in all Sailors and gives distinct actions to be taken if someone is suspected to be suicidal. "The 'A' stands for ask, which is simply asking the affected person if they are thinking about suicide. 'C' is care, letting the person know you care about them. Finally, 'T' represents treat, which is to get the person treatment as soon as possible,"
Dr. Julie Ruddy, director of Recruit Mental Health at the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC)…America’s Navy 2/10/14
"A year ago, we launched an effort we called Task Force Resilient, which primarily aimed at the causes of suicide. We brought every resource we could bring to bear to the issue of building resiliency in our Sailors and their families.” "For suicide, resiliency represents the process of preparing for, recovering from, and adjusting to life in the face of stress, adversity, trauma, or tragedy. We found through our research that there is a link between suicide prevention and resiliency, and that resiliency can be learned."
Rear Adm. Sean Buck, director of the 21st Century Sailor Office… America’s Navy 2/10/14
The Air Force has a new program that emphasizes leadership responsibilities in the effort to prevent suicides and a new web site that includes tips on recognizing distressed personnel.”
Lt. Col. Brett Ashworth, Associated Press, 11/11/13
A Move to Drop the “D” in PTSD
Military officers and psychiatrists are debating whether to change the name of a condition as old as combat. The potential new moniker: post-traumatic stress injury.
Military officers and some psychiatrists say that dropping the word disorder in favor of injury will reduce the stigma that stops troops from seeking treatment. “No 19 year old kid wants to be told he has a disorder.” Said General Peter Chiarelli, who until his retirement in February 2012 led the Army’s effort to reduce its suicide rate. Chiarelli took on the problem of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide after two tours in Iraq. He has pressed harder than any other officers to change the way service members view mental health problems. To Chiarelli and the psychiatrists pressing for change, the word injury suggest that people can heal with treatment, while disorder implies that something is permanently wrong.
Chiarelli was the first to drop the word disorder, refereeing to the condition as post-traumatic stress. The new name was adopted by officials at the highest levels of the Pentagon, including defense Secretary Leon Panetta. But post-traumatic stress never caught on with the medical community because of concerns that insurers and government bureaucrats would not be willing to pay for a condition that is not explicitly labeled a disease, disorder or injury. Some psychiatrists suggested post-traumatic stress injury as an alternative, and Chiarelli heartily endorsed the idea.
“There is a certain kind of shattering experience that changes the way our memory system works,” said Dr. Frank Ochberg a professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University. “The intensity of the trauma is so overwhelming that it alters the physiology of the brain. In this sense, post-traumatic stress disorder is more like a bullet wound or a broken leg than a typical mental disorder or disease.
At Combat Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh area of Afghanistan the 53 soldiers of Black Knight Troop were surrounded by 300 Taliban who through everything they had at them. Ty Carter ran into fire three times to save comrades and establish contact with a support group. Eventually, the soldiers of Black Knight Troop beat back the attack, but at a devastating price: eight dead, 25 hurt. Carter insists nine men were mortally wounded that day in Afghanistan. The ninth was Private Ed Faulkner, who helped save them from enemy fire. A year after coming home from Afghanistan, Faulkner died in the throes of an addiction that Carter says was one of the legacies of hellish battle. Faulkner had been injured in Iraq and didn’t get the treatment he needed,” Carter said. “The post-traumatic stress ate him up.”
Staff Sergeant Ty Carter asked the Army to deploy him again, this time on these shores, to tell his story that even he, a Medal of Honor recipient, needed help for post-traumatic stress. He is fighting an enemy more insidious than the Taliban: stigma. “My goal is to remove the D from PTSD,” he said. It’s not a disorder. It’s a normal human reaction to trauma. We have to do better by our warriors.”
Former President George W. Bush on Wednesday called for a fundamental shift in the perception and treatment of one of the most high-profile military injuries: post-traumatic stress disorder. Bush, speaking at a summit he convened on veterans’ issues, said that the condition has been mislabeled as a “disorder” and that calling it just “post-traumatic stress” would go a long way in erasing the stigma that affects many vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. “We are going to use our platform (the George W. Bush Institute) to make clear that veterans receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress are not damaged goods, they are not mentally shattered., Bush said. “They are people who got hurt defending our country and are overcoming wounds.”
In this web site and in our film we do not pretend to be experts on Post-traumatic Stress, service related suicides or suicide prevention. All the information here has been collected from outside sources and presented to hopefully give those unfamiliar with PTS and service related suicides some insight into both.