Today, Wednesday, June 27, 2012 marks the third annual observance of National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. In commemoration of the event, Honor for ALL will host a Visible Honor for Invisible Wounds event on Capitol Hill later today. Members of Congress, representatives from all branches of the military, and many affected service members and veterans will attend the event, promoting resources that are available to military personnel currently suffering from this disorder. Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler will deliver the keynote address.
First established by Congress in 2010, National PTSD Awareness Day is an opportunity for senior leadership and individuals dealing with this condition to open a dialogue with service members who are attempting to deal with PTSD on their own. In 2010, Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D., proposed this observance in honor of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, who committed suicide after two deployments to Iraq.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a campaign throughout the entire month of June, featuring videos of veterans, active duty personnel, and family members who have dealt with and suffered from symptoms of PTSD. According to VA, there are four types of PTSD symptoms. First, reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks can be a symptom. Second, the individual may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. Third, the individual may find it hard to express feelings and feel numb toward a spouse or family members. The fourth symptom, cited by VA, is that an individual may be jittery and on the lookout for danger. This may occur though anxiety, disruptive sleeping, or an inability to concentrate.
While 11 to 20 percent of all service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from symptoms of PTSD, many do not feel comfortable speaking out about their symptoms. Family members hope that their loved one will eventually reintegrate into the normal routine of life outside of the war zone. Some even learn to change their routine to avoid confrontations or triggers that make symptoms worse. However, the best method for dealing with PTSD is to talk to a professional about symptoms and experiences. This may be a doctor at a military treatment facility, other veterans in PTSD groups that meet at VA facilities, or civilian therapists provided free of charge through Give an Hour (www.giveanhour.org). What spouses, family members, veterans, and military individuals need to remember is there is help available. The first and most challenging step is to reach out and realize that accepting help does not undermine your worth as a veteran, as a warrior, or as an individual.
To access information provided by VA visit, www.ptsd.va.gov.