Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Treating Returning Combat Troops

President Obama announced a recommitment of the federal government to caring for veterans returning from combat as well as those from previous wars. As a matter of principle, it’s a shame more wasn’t done earlier. When going to war, great commitment is made to preparing soldiers for life as a warrior. It’s only fitting that the government in turn provides all the resources it takes to prepare soldiers to return to life as a citizen. That commitment has been lacking throughout our history.

Effectively, the changes will reduce red tape and other barriers to treatment for hundreds of thousands of soldiers: “No longer will veterans have to prove what caused their illness. Instead, they would have to show that the conditions surrounding the time and place of their service could have contributed to their illness. ‘I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application,’ the president said.”

While this is a positive step to expedite necessary treatment, other problems remain such as access and availability. Today, soldiers returning from combat often experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and there is little available in terms of access to services and treatment. Soldiers particularly in rural areas face a dilemma as the attempt to reenter family life and return to work, college, or both. Because of the lack of access, soldiers are faced with a choice between becoming a productive citizen and taking care of their mental health needs.

The changes are welcome, but I do hope they are merely a first step in rectifying the treatment of soldiers returning from combat and making the often difficult transition back to civilian life.

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2 Responses to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Treating Returning Combat Troops

  1. Jennifer says:

    Regarding PTSD and returning troops, there is another change that is drastically improving the mental health treatment for returning OIF/OEF vets. The policy change is to not only screen vets for PTSD when they first come back, but also at 6 months afterwards. Those are highest risk of having PTSD continue to be screened, and are encouraged to seek services. This is a huge step in the right direction, and many people do not realize is occurring so I thought I’d throw it out there.

    Also – most people with mental health issues are forced to choose between being a productive citizen and taking care of their mental health needs. It speaks volumes to how society as a whole views mental health needs.

    Years ago, troops (WWII for example) had months on a ship to “decompress” before they were returned to civilian life. Now they fly back to the states in a matter of hours, and are returned to civilian life a couple days later. Most WWII vets credit this difference to coping better throughout their lives with PTSD. Perhaps another positive change would be to delay the return of soldiers to civilian life and keep them with their battle buddies, on US soil, while they begin to adjust.

  2. Rhonda says:

    I have seen many stories of wounded soldiers returning from war and having to jump through hoops not only to receive the care they deserve,but to receive the monetary rewards they were promised. It was a crime and showed that our Government saw them as “disposable”. I hope that this is the first step (of many more to come) to improve that system.

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