PTSD: The Battle for Peace of Mind

Young Army Girl with Camouflage

Whoever said “war is hell” never really considered the ramifications of peacetime. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a known problem, one that has affected countless individuals coming back from the harrows and horrors of war. There is a certain sense of overwhelming joy and euphoria associated with the soldier finally coming home after any period of time spent in a combat zone. This is particularly true if they served on the front lines, in the theaters of war that saw the most action, during their active duty. However, even this happiness and joy can eventually crumble and give way to the stress and depression that can sometimes come with the prospect of having to readjust to civilian life.

This was observed after the Second World War and the Vietnam War, when veterans returned with more than just physical scars. The psychological trauma of having to survive while one’s fellows were shot down one by one over the course of a campaign can leave even the strongest personalities heavily scarred. The lessons learned from those wars have given way to psychological and psychiatric aid programs in the armed forces, specifically designed to help ease the transition for traumatized combat veterans. However, this system may not be effective or adequate, as recent discoveries among the Iraq war veterans are showing.

Several Iraq veterans are starting to become stressed out and depressed now, though they are not the ones that one would expect to have such problems. The first few months after being shipped back home, there is the aforementioned joy and euphoria. However, the adjustment back to civilian life – even after being put through extensive therapy – does not come easily. According to a recently conducted study, most of the people experiencing this are not enlisted men and women. Rather, it is the ones that are part of the Army Reserves or the National Guard that are having the problems.

The problems appear months after their return home, which often puts them out of the scope of the army’s mandatory counseling program to help relieve PTSD. Some experts believe that new studies will have to be conducted to fully understand why this is happening. While modern psychology understands the problems caused by PTSD after life in a battlefield, there has not yet been a study conducted into the possible delayed effects of it. It is possible that current programs used my the armed forces are not alleviating the problem and are merely delaying the onset.

Currently, the Pentagon is starting to take the problem seriously and has some ideas in place. The first is a program that is designed to help potential combatants prepare for what they might face prior to actually being sent there. This has been referred to as “basic training for the mind.” Another program being put into full implementation is one that helps families of returning soldiers cope with the changes to their loved one. The program also teaches both the veterans and their families to spot the signs that the soldier may need psychological help. However, no word was given on whether or not the medical arrangements that citizen-soldiers are given would be extended beyond the current tenures of six months of health insurance and two years of VA benefits.

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