Understanding PTSD: It Doesn’t Just Affect Just Veterans, Contrary to Popular Belief
Let’s make this front and center: Veterans are unfairly judged because of uneducated views about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many in the civilian public and media assume that after a decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and multiple tours of duty, Veterans are “damaged goods” because of PTSD. There is always a massive public outcry, or endless supply of uninformed news stories about how every Veteran has PTSD in some way.
It’s no secret that some Veterans suffer from PTSD. Of all of the Veterans of the Vietnam War, First Gulf War, and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, ten to twenty percent are estimated to suffer from PTSD. That number is remarkably low. But for some reason, often times military service becomes synonymous with poor mental health.
As we have talked about many times before, plenty of Veterans need better access to healthcare. VA and other healthcare providers need to increase efficiency, recruit more doctors, and get more Veterans who suffer in the door. There is a definite crisis from Veterans suffering physically and mentally.
PTSD is not an umbrella to categorize Veterans. In fact, many people fail to understand what PTSD is and how widespread it is throughout the civilian population. Up to twenty percent of Americans develop PTSD according to one source.
Overall, estimates put the total number of Americans suffering from PTSD around eight percent, or 24.4 million people. That’s about the population size of Texas. Those numbers are not far off from the numbers of Veterans, yet there isn’t really widespread public debate or extensive news coverage about the millions of civilians suffering from PTSD.
The reality is that Veterans are one portion of the population suffering from PTSD. But because of combat and the stereotypes of military service, many wrongly believe that PTSD is regulated just to the Veteran community. Nothing is further from the truth. Combat is one of the many causes of PTSD. Childhood neglect, sexual assault, physical attacks, and being threatened with a weapon are a few of the others.
When the public is uninformed, they make incorrect assumptions about certain groups of people. While seemingly innocent, this misunderstanding about PTSD could be the reason why VA and the FBI are withholding constitutional rights like the right to bear arms from Veterans because they need help on healthcare benefits.
Regardless of their actual mental health, many Veterans are incorrectly labeled as mentally unfit. This misunderstanding could indirectly create discrimination against Veterans as well; as an employer may be worried about hiring a former soldier with mental health issues.
We need your help so that the public and elected officials understand the entire picture. PTSD affects everyone, not just Veterans, and should not be assumed. Teaching people about PTSD and how Veterans are one of many groups affected by it could help clear up misconceptions about our former soldiers and help them keep more of their constitutional rights they are responsible enough to handle unless legitimately, not arbitrarily or unfairly, proven otherwise.