PTSD Does Not Just 'Go Away' Over a Certain Period of Time
Some people think that after someone is out of the military for any period of time (no matter their discharge status) a “switch” flips over reverting their brain back to civilian mode, ready for life outside of the military. What they fail to understand is the military does not teach our men and women how to switch back and forth between “soldier” and “civilian” between deployments. Many soldiers (especially those on the front line) leave the military with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My husband (an infantry combat vet with three deployments under his belt) can tell you his PTSD is something that is not going to just “go away.” For him, every night is a nightmare.
My husband has been out of the U.S. Army since 2006… nearly a decade. Initially, he enlisted as National Guard. After four months, he went active duty as infantry. This was before the horrific events that occurred on 9/11/2001. He wasn’t deployed for his first tour to Iraq until 2003. Two more deployments followed: one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. He was on the front line, patrolling some of the danger zones in both countries.
Many vets return from deployments with varying degrees of PTSD. It’s not just modern day vets either (though PTSD was not an “official diagnosis” until the DSM-III in the 1980s). It’s vets from the Vietnam War, the Korean War, WWII, etc.. PTSD does not discriminate. The stigma attached to it has come and gone over the years, causing a lot of vets to self-medicate to avoid being labeled with a psych disorder.
There’s a lot of stigma attached to mental illness and PTSD. If you are diagnosed, then you are “crazy,” “unstable,” and “unpredictable.” In all actuality, this is not the case. These men and women are on high alert, looking for anything that may potentially threaten their safety (or the safety of others). They’re mentally preparing themselves for danger and triggers.
Our vets don’t deserve to be judged for the horrors they endured while deployed. Really, no one deserves to be judged for having PTSD. No one but them (and their families to an extent) know the hell they deal with day after day. PTSD is real, and it’s scary, and it’s awful, no matter what the cause.
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Thinkstock photo by Highwaystarz Photography