This is NOT okay.

18 Jul

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is becoming the most prevalent injury for returning troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, before you say anything about this being a only mental health problem versus an injury causing mental health problems, you are wrong and correct your thoughts, because when you believe this way, you are part of the problem. All of my readers should know by now how I deal with problems. It is isn’t pretty and this is an argument you will NEVER win with me.

Moving to the point, it was reported here that last month there were more military suicides due to PTSD than deaths in combat. Basically, we are losing the war at home, people. This is NOT okay or normal or to be expected. This is awful and terrible and a testament to how our returning troops injured with PTSD are being treated and ignored.

America needs to wake the hell up!

PTSD is being largely ignored by the already overwhelmed V.A. system. That is NOT okay. Troops are dying because they can’t get health care. They are dying because the V.A. tells them to call 911, and the cops either shoot them or don’t know how to handle them and the veteran is then charged with ludicrous, made up crimes, as is the case with my husband (you can read his story here).

My good friend, and fellow wife of a wounded veteran,Torrey Shannon told me today of an incredibly alarming trend going on at Fort Carson. At Fort Carson, which is in Colorado, soldiers are being chaptered out of the Army when they seek help for PTSD related self-medication (Colorado allows use of medicinal marijuana). Basically, these men and women can be prescribed a perfectly legal prescription from a civilian doctor in Colorado for medicinal marijuana to help their PTSD symptons, but the military does not condone this practice. In fact, when a soldier finds out that they will be busted by the service, they enroll in a drug treatment program, yet the Army is still kicking them out. This leads to a whole host of problems, including real drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, and suicide. That is NOT okay.

Today the article from The New York Times was published. There is literally no mention of Zac’s case, only our worthless prosecutor’s tagline of “PTSD cannot be a get out of jail free card.” While I am pretty upset there was no mention of Zac’s case in the article, it does do a good job showing what can happen in emergent situations similar to Zac’s when police, prosecutors and judges have awareness and understanding of this injury. Sadly, in our community and many around the country, this is definitely not the case. That is NOT okay.

At present I am constructing a letter to Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady.  Dr. Biden has worked extensively with wounded warriors, their families and the issues that plague them daily. If you have any words for Dr. Biden, please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to include them. I do hope that she is able to at least get some people with real power to do something about this epidemic, motivated and in gear to attack it. Once the letter is ready to be sent, I will post it on this blog.

Please spread the word on this post everywhere you can, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. The hell of PTSD isn’t just going to disappear and we can’t keep pushing it away. That is NOT okay.

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2 Responses to “This is NOT okay.”

  1. Debbie Stanley, LLPC, NCC, CPO-CD 18/07/2011 at 19:50 #

    I agree, nothing about this is at all okay. No one with PTSD should go without support and treatment, whether military or civilian, but soldiers who have PTSD due to their service should–I think this is obvious–have an automatic and seamless connection to that support and treatment. It’s an on-the-job injury and therefore the employer’s responsibility, and there should be no cracks to fall through. Our military originated the study of efficiency and productivity. This should be simple.

    There is one refinement I would suggest in your verbiage, and I offer this at the risk of raising your ire, but here it is. Post-traumatic stress disorder is BOTH an injury and a mental health issue. It begins with a psychological injury, a trauma, which creates physiological changes in the brain. It is, in that way, a physical injury even if there was no concussion or penetration of the brain.

    When that injury (or more often, series of injuries) evolves into PTSD (or another anxiety disorder, or a mood disorder, etc), it becomes a mental health issue as well as a physical one. The physical changes in the brain cause cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes that add up to the psychological diagnosis. The indicated treatment is both physical (meds) and psychological (therapy).

    However, because mental illness is so stigmatized, many people don’t want to acknowledge that they have a mental health diagnosis. They would rather align solely with a physical disability than be thought of as “crazy.” I’m not saying that’s your reasoning (I wouldn’t presume to know what you’re thinking). Instead I’m pointing this out to caution you that your reaction could be interpreted as reinforcing the stigma against mental illness. Again, I’m not saying that I think this is what you mean, but some people would read your position as “These soldiers have REAL injuries, not some made-up psychobabble cop-out.” That would be unfortunate because it would reduce the ability of mental health professionals (and politicians, I would guess) to align with your message.

    Ignorance about the physiological components of mental illness is a problem I encounter daily. I constantly make the point that I think you’re making here—that this condition is an actual change in brain chemistry that is not the person’s fault and that cannot be corrected through sheer willpower. But here’s where our messages diverge: When you say PTSD is not a mental health issue, you disparage my legitimacy in treating it. I believe (and hope) you would find voices like mine useful in support of your efforts, so I respectfully suggest you consider whether it serves your cause to distance yourself from us.

    • Elle 18/07/2011 at 19:56 #

      No Debbie, I wasn’t trying to suggest it wasn’t a mental health issue, perhaps my language was confusing. I will fix it. What I am pointing out is that these people afflicted with PTSD aren’t crazy and that is what so many people believe.

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