Most people who sign up to serve in the armed services understand that there is some risk involved. Any time someone works in an active conflict zone, there's risk for loss of limb or life. Even those who make it home whole in body may struggle with serious mental health issues following their discharge.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition that affects a broad range of military personnel. From those who serve in conflict zones to those who provide medical support, the demands of the job can cause symptoms and issues that can persist for life. In many cases, PTSD will have a long-term or permanent impact on someone's ability to retain a civilian job in the future.
PTSD isn't limited to those who experience live fire
Our media often shows stories related to those with PTSD, but they are very selective about what narrative those stories follow. Generally speaking, it's easy for people watching a news story or reading an article to understand how those who nearly died or who survived when their team mates did not feel traumatized. Other situations simply aren't as glamourous.
It's quite common, however, for those who never witness the explosion of a roadside bomb or experience live fire in a combat situation to develop PTSD. They could have nightmares, relive the event in what are called flashbacks or experience a shift in personality and the ability to handle stress.
Simply witnessing the aftermath of a bombing or attack could be enough cause. For some veterans, abuse or assault by others in their regimen may result in trauma. Regardless of the situation that leads to PTSD, veterans deserve support and care for their service-related PTSD.
The symptoms of PTSD can prove debilitating
Depending on the root cause of the PTSD and how complex the trauma was, many different stimuli can serve as triggers for PTSD-related symptoms. With veterans, common triggers include loud noises, gunfire, aggressive shouting (potentially in another language) or even something like piles of trash on the curbside. These various experiences can lead to a veteran experiencing a flashback or extreme anxiety related to their PTSD.
When a person can't handle intense stress, loud noises, certain visual stimuli or smells, working a typical job can prove difficult. Even self-care and maintenance of close relationships, like with a spouse or family members, can prove difficult or impossible. With adequate care and therapy, some people with PTSD can reduce their triggers or improve the ability to control their responses. Others, however, will struggle with symptoms of PTSD for the rest of their lives.
Those with a PTSD diagnosis or a strong belief that they have PTSD should consider the potential benefits available to them through military disability. Sadly, many people receive coaching prior to their discharge interviews that leads them to misrepresent or understate the severity of their symptoms. In these cases, an external diagnosis may be necessary. For those denied benefits related to PTSD, an appeal may help them connect with the benefits they need.