PTSD: More Than A Military Issue

“We don’t heal in isolation, but in community.” S. Kelley Harrell

Did you know that PTSD - commonly associated with war veterans from a by-gone era - can actually affect anyone, even you?

The Refuge, a treatment center and authority on trauma and disorders, says that PTSD is a mental health condition that can affect anyone who is exposed to a traumatic, frightening, dangerous and perspective-shattering event.

Understanding that PTSD is linked to all experiences of trauma, and can affect anyone, helps to de-stigmatize its effects and promote recovery.

Understanding that PTSD is linked to all experiences of trauma, and can affect anyone, helps to de-stigmatize its effects and promote recovery.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • War
  • Sexual Trauma
  • The threat of injury or death to you or a loved one
  • Natural Disaster
  • Witnessing horrifying events
  • Profound Fear
  • Serious physical injury

Exposure to these experiences can result in chronic feelings of hopelessness, depression, profound anxiety and overwhelming feelings of fear that may manifest in the form of repeated nightmares or flashbacks.

These symptoms characterize PTSD and invade the sufferer’s ability to thrive in ‘normal’ day-to-day scenarios. According to The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, up to 20% of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan wars and up to 30% of those who served in Vietnam suffer from PTSD.

Key Facts:

Service professions - like the military, police, prison guards or first responders - see high rates of PTSD.

Service professions - like the military, police, prison guards or first responders - see high rates of PTSD.

  1. Simply experiencing or witnessing severe trauma can cause PTSD, though. Approximately 8 out of every 100 people will suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives in the United States. This means that during a given year, approximately five million American adults are coping with PTSD.

2. Service professions have an inordinately high level of PTSD.  Ron Clark, the Chairman of Badge of Life, a group of mostly retired officers working to raise awareness of the dangers of police stress, estimates that 1 out of 8 officers struggles with PTSD. This diagnosis can be career-ending for those who do not receive treatment, due to the "triggering" nature of the work. 

PTSD is prevalent in all facets of law enforcement, including prison guards. According to Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, correctional officers (CO’s) suffer from PTSD at more than double the rate of military veterans in the United States

Survivors experiencing symptoms of PTSD vs. those with none

Up to 85% of Domestic Violence Survivors will experience PTSD.

3. Post Traumatic Stress is also linked to experiences of domestic violence. According to The PTSD Alliance and Becky’s Fund, Post-traumatic stress disorder is the most common anxiety disorder associated with domestic violence, finding in one study that the prevalence of PTSD in a sample of domestic violence victims had ranged from 45 to 84%.

The study points out that survivors of domestic violence are at greater risk for repeated victimizations that keep them imprisoned not only in their trauma, but potentially literally imprisoned due to unhealthy and even occasionally illegal methods of coping.

Concluding Thoughts:

With such a large portion of the population suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, why are so many PTSD sufferers resistant to receiving treatment?

Answer: The stigma of being judged as “dangerous” or “unstable” because of a PTSD diagnosis and mental health issues. 

The truth is that PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of! As Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ty Carter says, PTSD is not actually a disorder but a syndrome -- it is the body's natural reaction to unnatural circumstances. Staff Sergeant Carter explains, "If you just call it stress, what it really is, it explains the fact that it's a natural reaction to a traumatic experience. It's our body's and mind's natural reaction to try and avoid [dangerous] situations." 

The stigma of PTSD, and underlying feelings of anxiety and fear, make it especially difficult for sufferers to seek the treatment they need.

The stigma of PTSD, and underlying feelings of anxiety and fear, make it especially difficult for sufferers to seek the treatment they need.

By de-stigmatizing PTSD, and remembering that it affects nearly 5 million Americans and can affect anyone who experiences trauma, we give survivors a space to freely recount their experiences and heal together. 

Are you or a loved one experiencing symptoms of PTSD? Reach out to us here to learn more about resources and options for treatment.