purple heart.psd

by Derek Farwell

With the current wars winding down and thousands of soldiers coming home and finishing their terms of service in whichever branch of the military they served in there are a couple of pretty largely publicized hot issues. One is the high unemployment rate among soldiers getting out of the military, but I think the biggest issue that attracts the most attention and the most debate is the mental health status of soldiers returning from war zones. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is at this point something that most people have heard of but know little about. I have some varying thoughts on the issue, but I’ll do my best to enlighten people as to my thoughts about it.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that can manifest itself differently in many individuals. It’s a condition that can develop in people who are exposed to some kind of psychological trauma in which they feel that they are in imminent danger of physical injury or death, or have actually suffered some kind of physical trauma. It’s not like other conditions where you can feel yourself coming down with something. It’s more so something that develops in your brain while you slowly withdraw from your normal life. While I agree that PTSD is a significant problem with some returning veterans, I also think that some veterans and people in general are too quick to point to that as an excuse for stupid behaviors. I think that because everyone is different, and everyone reacts differently to similar situations that veterans with PTSD fall into a couple of different categories. There is a small percentage of veterans who suffer from such severe symptoms of PTSD that they have recurring flashbacks and literally can’t tell the difference between that and reality. There are people that have been diagnosed with moderate to severe PTSD and live with the symptoms that go along with it. And finally there are people who try to take advantage of it and use it as an excuse to act like idiots and give the majority of veterans a bad name.

There are numerous examples of the last type of people in the news all the time, but I heard one recently that I just read in a news story. It involved a guy who had been arrested for domestic violence against his wife. Basically he got mad, punched his wife and then tried choking her. When he was arrested and interviewed he tried claiming that it wasn’t him that did this, it was his PTSD that made him do it. Later in the story it went on to discuss his career in the Army where he served as a cook and was at one point deployed to Germany which would have some merit had he been deployed to Germany 70 years ago during World War 2, however this happened about 6 months ago. During some of the recent mass shootings that have taken place around the country I remember hearing people ask, I wonder if he was a veteran. Comments like that really serve to p*** me off because it’s people like the guy I mentioned earlier that cause people to think that all veterans are violent, hungry psychotics that can’t control themselves.

I definitely can’t speak for everyone, and I don’t think it necessary for me to publicize the multiple volumes of my private medical records, but I feel comfortable enough with myself to say that I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe PTSD with anxiety disorder as a direct result of my time in the military. In the time since my doctors have diagnosed me with those conditions I’ve had no desires to go out and make other people’s lives miserable because I feel like I have a free pass to act like a degenerate. PTSD is a legitimate medical condition that can be helped if you do the right thing and seek assistance from any of the numerous services that are readily available to help, and in most cases, completely free. Having a heart condition with high cholesterol isn’t a license to sit on your couch and scarf down cheeseburgers because you’ve already been diagnosed with those conditions. You have to change your habits and get help to make it better. Likewise, having PTSD isn’t a license to do whatever you want and pretend that the rules of society don’t apply to you because you think you have a ‘get out of jail free card’ with PTSD. I’ve found that I can be a bit forgetful these days, but I seem to remember hearing something about holding ourselves to a higher moral and ethical standard than the civilian population as one of the many virtues that were repeatedly beaten into us in the military.

Let’s all try to adhere to those standards so every time somebody does something stupid in America that people don’t automatically assume that it’s one of us!

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