Soldier’s Heart

Here Here Here Here Here Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by panic attacks, anxiety, irritability, persistent nightmares, flashbacks, or any combination of the above. It might be simply defined as an anxiety disorder in which the sufferer is unable to acclimate or re-acclimate to a typical lifestyle after being involved in a traumatic one, such as active warfare. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder afflicts many former veterans, though it is not limited to veterans and can affect refugees, survivors of child and domestic abuse, and other individuals who have experienced a distressing situation.
People most likely to be affected by PTSD are individuals with an unstable family background, a history of low self-esteem, and prolonged exposure to the traumatic instances. People less likely to be affected by PTSD are those that have graduated high school or college and have a higher socio-economic status. however, regardless of their origins, veterans have one of the highest rates of PTSD of any group. According to Lt. Col. David Grossman, wars have far more psychological casualties than they do physical ones.
Despite the high rate of PTSD among soldiers, only a small percentage of the afflicted actually seek psychological evaluation. Doctor and employee of Vermonts Department of Veteran Affairs Andrew Pomerantz reasons that most veterans with PTSD to not seek treatment because they dont want to be viewed as “weaklings.” Remembers Julie Proulx, girlfriend of late marine Jeff Lucey, “He didnt want the marines to think he was weak. He was very reluctant [to seek help].” Lucey ultimately committed suicide due to the effects of PTSD and subsequent depression.
Not only do veterans fear that they will be labeled as weak, but many perceive the stigmatization of so much as seeking mental health evaluation as “job-ending.” Some soldiers, such as Rob Sarra, often fear that they will be discharged as mentally unstable.
PTSD affects more than just the lives of the individuals who develop it: the disorder also takes a toll on the lives of their loved ones. The wives of returning soldiers often report their husbands to be more irritable and snippy. Sarra discusses his struggles with developing alcoholism and subsequent fights in bars. In one instance, he became so enraged that he almost killed a man, only to become re-aware of his surroundings. “If I had killed that man,” he notes, “there would be no getting around that.” Veteran Andrew Pogany reported that he developed anxiety and severe panic attacks, during which time he “couldnt clear [his] head.”
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is not the only psychological damage that plagues returning veterans. Some, like Sarra, suffer from short-term memory loss or “blackouts.” Others, such as Lucey, become depressed or display signs of schizophrenia like auditory hallucinations. Neglecting to deal with these issues —as many veterans refuse to do— can lead to tragic consequences, such as the dissolution of marriages or, in the case of Jeff Lucey, suicide.
Given the detrimental affects it has on relationships, psychological stability, and day-to-day activities, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder remains today as dangerous an enemy of soldiers as the combatants they are fighting.