Our nation will take the month of June to create greater awareness for a silent tormentor of men and women who survive combat, but came home broken in mind and spirit.One in three servicemen and servicewomen returning from Afghanistan or other hot spots in the world today are being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, psychological experts say.
And, like military personnel of past generations, most don’t seek treatment. The latest studies report only 40 percent seek help. In addition, on average five active-duty troops attempt suicide each day.Service providers such as the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center have workers trained in screening and assessment of PTSD and can recommend needed treatment.
Michigan currently has 680,000 veterans among its 9.8 million residents, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said WednesdayPTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person sees or experiences an event(s) that cause serious trauma or death. In addition to American troops, it can also impact children who have been abused as well as survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and natural disasters.
And unlike previous generations going back to the end of World War II in 1945, physicians are more able to recognize the disorder and military veterans are more apt to seek treatment.PTSD can result in chronic sleep problems, irritability, anger, recurrent dreams about the event, intense reactions to reminders of the trauma, disturbances in relationships and isolation, psychiatrists at MORC say.
Some people with PTSD report symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbness.Depending upon the case, recovery can take weeks to months to years or be a lifelong disability.
In order to help those with or suspected of having PTSD, the Department of Veterans Affairs has developed suggestions to help those with the disorder, including:
n Learn as much as you can about PTSD.
n Offer to go to doctor visits with your family member. You can help keep track of medicine and therapy and can be there for support.n Tell your loved one you are there to listen to him or her and understand if you he or she doesn’t feel like talking.
n Plan family activities. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or do some physical activity together and can help clear your mind.
n Give loved ones space, but let them know you support them.
Jerry Wolffe is the Disability Advocate at Large/Writer in Residence at Macomb-Oakland Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.