Our Brave Veterans and Their Nemesis: PTSD

So many veterans are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some get help and recover. Others, unable to cope, become homeless. And way too many commit suicide.

There are vets who served during the Vietnam War who are still struggling.

Here are some startling facts from a recent blog from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

  • PTSD wasn’t even recognized as a mental illness until 1980.
  • About 31 percent of male American veterans who served in Vietnam experienced PTSD at some point in their lifetime. Almost one out of three.
  • Approximately 1 in 10 veterans who served in Vietnam experienced PTSD 40 years later. This is called delayed-onset PTSD, and it often occurs during a major life change like retirement.

Vietnam vets may be more likely to suffer from PTSD for a number of reasons. The draft. Conflicted feelings about the war itself. And a society that didn’t exactly welcome them home with open arms.

There is help available, like counselors at VA hospitals and a 24/7 veterans’ hotline (800-273-8255). But so many vets can’t or won’t ask for assistance. It’s up to us to engage with Vietnam veterans when we can. Thanking them for their service is a start. A “How are you doing?” is even better.

Read the entire NAMI blog post here.



A Societal Disconnect

Much of the population names mental illness as the root cause for the horrendous number of mass shootings in this country. I don’t want to turn this into an adversarial blog, but it occurs to me that many of the people advocating mental health reform are some of the same people who don’t want to do what’s necessary to fix our broken health system.

Mental health is a part of health care — or at least it should be. If we see the number of uninsured in this country rise again, some who need mental health care will be unable to get it.

Does anyone else see this disconnect?