Words cannot describe the strength and courage that our soldiers must have in order to survive the war and to protect our country. As I talked to many soldiers and researched the obstacles they must face I have found that even when the war is over our soldiers carry the memories from the war with them, both good and bad, forever.
Transitioning from deployment and active duty to civilian life can be incredibly difficult. The toll it can take is devastating both emotionally and psychologically.
One man I spoke to described his homecoming to me. A time we would think would be joyous turns into an inner turmoil that very few civilians could ever relate to. Every night he found himself waking up to every little sound he heard. It got to the point where he was only getting two hours sleep a night. He was angry and extremely temperamental.
One night he was awakened by the sound of his crying child. Anger coursing through him he ran to his child’s bed and in a blind rage shook the two year old desperately trying to keep his child quiet. It was then that he realized he needed help.
He went for PTSD training and was able to learn how to deal with his anger and negative emotions. With help he was able to have a happy and healthy transition into civilian life. He was finally able to let go of the negative memories of the war that had been plaguing him.
Unfortunately not everyone realizes they need help. Many soldiers do not realize the change in their behavior while others may recognize that something is not right, yet are unwilling to accept the problem. Many soldiers feel uncomfortable or ashamed asking for outside help. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that you are not going to have a healthy, happy and productive life without the help of counseling or outside organizations that provide the proper training showing you how to cope with the after effects of the war. Also, remember, the longer you wait the worse it gets.
Another gentleman while stationed in Iraq found some peace visiting with another younger soldier who was only 19 at the time. He felt like a big brother to him. However, after he was deployed, they lost contact for a little while. Several months later the 19 year old emailed him to say he’d been locked up and then sent out of the marines because he was suicidal. He thanked the soldier for coming to see him when they were in Iraq together because the visits had saved him from putting a barrel in his mouth on several occasions.
Suicide is not uncommon in the military, as posttraumatic syndrome is increasing suicide tendency among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The latest figures show that 56 US soldiers’ committed suicide in 2009, according to information released by the US Army. The US medics have recorded 23 soldiers committing suicide in January. Sadly enough the number of those committing suicide was higher than the number of soldiers killed in combat-related incidents for that month.
Eighteen other suicide cases were reported in the US military in February.
Based on the report, an increasing rate of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are among leading causes of suicide in the US troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
High agitation and constant state of high alert” are some of the most common stress symptoms among wounded soldiers treated in Washington DC’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
At least 10 to 15 percent of troops who receive treatment at the center suffer from PTSD.According to Iraqi officials’ estimates, some 600 US troops, including senior officers, have committed suicide in Iraq since the invasion of the country in 2003. Half of the suicide attempts have been successful. Both PTSD and suicide attempts are linked with each
The US Army has reportedly pressured its medical staff not to diagnose combat veterans, who had fought in Iraq, with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The shocking news was revealed after an Iraq veteran recorded an Army psychologist at Fort Carson, Colorado, during a medical appointment.
Salon magazine reported a combat veteran seeking treatment at Fort Carson for a brain injury and PTSD, had put a recording device into his pocket in order to capture his doctor’s instructions because his memory had been so severely damaged during the war.
His recording, however, unlocked a dark secret documenting the fact that the US military does not want Iraq veterans to be diagnosed with PTSD – something that wounded soldiers and their advocates have long suspected.
Once a war veteran is diagnosed PTSD the military has to provide expensive, intensive long-term care, including the possibility of lifetime disability payments.
The shocking revelation follows remarks made by a retired Army psychiatrist who has recently said that the Army has ordered its medical staff to misdiagnose soldiers suffering from war-related PTSD to reduce their benefits.
PTSD and suicide is widespread in the military. Know the signs and understand that no one can help you except your self. If you notice:
- Upsetting memories of the event
- Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
- Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
- Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
- Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
- Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
- Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
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