Friday, July 6, 2012

PTSD Essay

The Aftermath of War - PTSD

SCHOOL/ INSTITUTION NAME
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, today I am here to speak to you about domestic violence, murder, self-inflicted injury and suicide. These are just a few unfortunate outcomes of posttraumatic stress disorder among war veterans. Paranoia, hopelessness, depression, impulsiveness and recklessness are symptoms that are present in many soldiers returning from war (NIMH, n.d.). Upon reintegration into society, both female and male marines and soldiers often feel detached and have problems showing intimacy, compassion, and even having sex. Studies conducted by the U.S Defense Department and the New England Journal of Medicine report similar findings, which state that 1 in 6 soldiers and marines return from Iraq with symptoms of PTSD. Less than 40% of these soldiers look for help, in fear of losing their military positions (Hoge et al., 2004).

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Posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD causes its victims to feel frightened, worried and stressed in normal situations in which an unaffected person would feel comfortable. It is a mental disorder caused by the occurrence of a traumatic event, either to the victim or to the victim’s loved one (NIMH, n.d.). War veterans are only one type of victim of this disorder but they have been the cause of much study on this matter. Throughout the past century, awareness and acceptance of PTSD has risen in militaries around the world. The disorder has evolved from being called at its earliest discovery the Swiss disease, then the railway spine, in the 19th century; traumatic hysteria and traumatic neurasthenia, later on; shell shock, and during and post-WWII, combat fatigue. Not until the Vietnam War, was the term PTSD globally accepted and treated as a legitimate mental disorder. Today’s efforts in detection and early treatment of the disorder have come at the cost of much skepticism inflicted on many victims in the past.

Since then, organizations such as the United States Department of Veteran Affairs have been focusing on providing victims with the support they need to smoothly reintegrate into society. This support consists of resources providing disability insurance, suicide prevention, dependents’ educational assistance, employment opportunities and help with starting a business. Treatments such as cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure therapy have proven to be effective for victims suffering from PTSD (VA, n.d.). With all the treatment and services provided, however, the number of affected military personnel continues to flourish as United States armed forces continue to deploy troops into the Middle East.

Gordon Duff has many titles, including writer, international banker, diplomatic officer, and yes, Marine Vietnam veteran. As a man who has achieved a great deal in his life, his opinion should be considered. He voices his concern on the matter in a response to a study conducted by a weekly magazine entitled BaMachaneh, published by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The study claims that Israeli soldiers are far less susceptible to the disorder that is PTSD than their American counterparts, 5 percent versus 30 percent affected, respectively (Duff, 2010). There is a host of possible reasons as to why this may be true. The study reported that soldiers’ treatment time is quicker, officers’ awareness of their troops’ conditions was higher, and officers were less elitist and adversarial in the IDF. Although there may be a bias in Duff’s arguments, his emphasis on the ideas that Israel values each life while Americans are quick to abandon prisoners of war and are more ready to call an injured fighter ‘damaged goods (Duff, 2010) bring up some points of concern. The Vietnam veteran goes on to list job guarantees, full socialized medicine, subsidy for education, and housing as factors which contribute positively to the mental state of Israeli war veterans, items which American soldiers and marines are not so readily handed.

Although his article contains a lot of negative undertones towards Israel, one can learn a lesson from Duff’s perspective. It is as important to consider the mind state and motives of the enlistee before entering the battlefield, as it is to do so after. Many men and women in the United States enter the armed forces for a sense of purpose, sometimes merely to turn away from poverty, drugs and crime. A lot of these individuals are already suffering from mental disorders. Considering a war veteran who enlists voluntarily, sees friends and colleagues get ligaments blown away, and returns home without any real war-driven results having been produced, one can understand the psychological toll it may take on that person’s mind. These people develop self-hatred, feelings of worthlessness, and unworthiness of life. They question themselves, their actions, and their contributions. This self-doubt, coupled with a general uncertainty of the feats that are accomplished by war and the public’s misconceptions about PTSD and war in general, leaves little hope for victims. Experience shows that a soldier can be physically unharmed and have a harder time reintegrating into a normal life. "I tell you, my four children don't have a father," says a former IDF soldier sadly. "But still my wife refuses to accept that I have such a condition (Eglash, 2008).
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