Removing the Stigma of PTSD

July 15, 2012 | Terry Howell

[Editor’s Note: As with many blog posts, a large portion of this post was taken directly from an original American Legion article, which can be found at: http://www.legion.org/veteranshealthcare/203662/taking-d-out-ptsd. The following post was recently edited to reflect feedback from the American Legion.]

The question of whether or not to take the “D” out of PTSD is a hot topic for some veterans and support organizations. Many veterans feel that calling it a disorder adds a stigma that not only impacts the veterans, but also affects the public perception of veterans in general. Others are concerned that downplaying PTSD by removing the word disorder could have a negative impact on veterans ability to get medical assistance.

On June 20, the American Legion hosted a meeting to discuss the implications of changing the medical classification of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to post-traumatic stress (PTS). Attendees included representatives from the National Association for Uniformed Services, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America.

The American Legion article, ‘Taking the D Out of PTSD’, talks about the fact that those who support the idea of dropping the ‘D’ believe that changing it to PTS would remove the stigma, making it easier for servicemembers and veterans to reach out for help. Dr. Matthew Friedman, chair of the American Psychological Association’s work group on PTSD, pointed out that the Canadian armed forces call PTSD “Operational Stress Injury,” or OSI. Friedman said that the Canadians adopted the term to “soften the blow” and reduce the stigma associated with PTSD.

As noted earlier, others are concerned that dropping the ‘D’ could make it difficult for veterans to access VA programs and medical assistance. Dr. Jeanne Stellman of Columbia University and a member of the Legion’s committee on Traumatic Brain Injury/PTSD, voiced concern about the effect of removing the term disorder could have on health-care delivery. Adding, “This is much more important than the presence or the absence of the ‘D.’”

Stellman agrees that the “D” in PTSD carries a social stigma that needs to be dealt with. However, she added that education can help overcome the stigma as in the cases of breast cancer and HIV/AIDS.

According to the Legion article, Dr. Stellman said PTSD is classified as a disorder because human responses vary in range, while diseases usually have more consistent symptoms. Whether conditions are diseases, symptoms or something else, they all must have medical classifications, which are fundamental to the operation of the entire health-care system. “Patients must have classification codes in order to get treatment — they have to map into the world of medicine,” she said.

Participants were reminded that PTSD can be a lifelong affliction that needs medical attention and social support — but it does not need denial.

The American Legion’s Ad Hoc Committee on Traumatic Brain Injury/PTSD has been at work for nearly two yearsgathering information about the best practices and treatments for TBI and PTSD. According the Legion article, the committee plans to issue its findings and recommendations in a full report this fall.

Please read the full American Legion article on the meeting to ensure that you get the full story.

About Terry Howell

Before becoming the Managing Editor for Military.com, Terry served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate and aircrewman. In his final role in the Coast Guard, Terry served as a Career Development Advisor, where he provided career, finance, education, and benefits counseling to servicemembers and their families. Since retiring from the Coast Guard, Terry has authored the book, The Military Advantage, managed the content for TurboTap, the DoD's online transition program and VAforVets, the VA's transition assistance website. Terry earned both his Bachelor's and MBA at Corban University using Military Tuition Assistance and his GI Bill benefits to help cover the cost.

Comments

  1. stephanie says:

    As a military spouse . I think that any and every way possible what ever needs. to be done to combat PTSD should be top priority.

  2. Frank Ochberg, MD says:

    The "D" is stigmatizing, but the answer is to substitute "I" for Injury, not to simply drop the "D." PTS is medically normal unless it results in injury to brain function.
    Have a look at http://www.posttraumaticstressinjury.org for details. The name Posttraumatic Stress Injury is accurate and less stigmatizing. -Frank Ochberg, MD

    • If PTSD was not described as it is, there wold be no classification in the DSM that is used to obtain social security benefits nor would the VA recognize it as a disability for service-connection. All mentally ill people have to deal with stigma because they have mental disorders. It does not matter what the name is called. The symptoms still persist!

  3. DONALD SAMS says:

    THE V.A WILL USE THIS TO CHANGE FROM DISORDER TO INJURY AS A WAY TO REDUCE DISABILTY AND UNEMPLOYABILITY.THIS IS ABOUT MONEY NOT A SOCIAL EFFECT.SOCIALIST DEEM ALL COMBAT VETS FROM VIETNAM TO NOW AS TERRORIST

    • DONALD SAMS says:

      REMEMBER,THE ONLY DIFFERANCE BETWEEN SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM IS AN AK-47 POINTED AT YOUR HEAD.THIS IS ABOUT REDUCING THE RATING OF DISABILITIES AND UNEMPLOYABILITY.WHEN THEY HOLD YOU UP FOR 2 YEARS AFTER DOCTORS SAY YOU ARE 100% AND UNEMPLOYABLE.EVERYONE WITH P.T.S.D. WILL BE LOOK AT TO BY REGIONAL OFFICES/O.T.C EVALUATIONS TO LOWER YOUR RATING.AND THE WAR GOES ON.IT TOOK TEN YEARS TO GET AGENT ORANGE ON REGISTRY.NOV.2010.

  4. Marshall says:

    All I know is it has taking over 30 years to get the government to omit I got cancer from Agent Orange. And to omit to PTSD so what fool is trying to take this away now? I know even if I could obtain 100% disabilities rating for all my injury's I can never recover the lost 30 + years of not being paid. Now this looks like another way to just stick it to Vietnam area vets while giving the new vet's everything. The Battle just keep's going on and on for Vietnam area Vets !!!!!!!

    • Sgt. Disabled says:

      The only cure for PTSD is death! Vietnam vets have had to live with the trauma of war for over 30 years! Now we relive it again every day with thoughts of Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, China, Russia, Africa, and even our own country. There is a batle going on in this country, a battle of disrespect for the Vietnam Veterans by the Veterans Administration; we are HAS-BEENS to them. We no longer deserve treatment or compensation for our mental (call it what it is!) diorder which includes headaches, nightmares, cold sweats, loneliness, dreams, broken relashionships, inability to trust, and the list goes on! But then some 20 year old phychiatrist tells us to suck it up… you were once a soldier now it's over for you, go home and think about other things! What the hell does he know about what we suffer? Was he there? Was he spit upon when he got home? Did he see the carnage of civillians? Of your comrades? Hell no!! We are only asking for what we deserve… PEACE WITH HONOR!!

      • Danny Brister says:

        Could not have said it better my friend,i am still fighting with the VA,i will fight them till im dead thats what they want.I suffer with PTSD take a hand full of drugs to stay sain.

      • Bob O'Neil says:

        You hit the nail on the head with your description of the daily thoughts and symptoms of Nam Vets. I have lived this hell for 45 years only asking for help in 1996 because I was feeling suicidal. I was too ashamed to ask for help before that, having served in the army in VN in 1966 I thought I was too tough to ask for anything that was connected to that war. In 2010 I was diagnosed with PTSD, funny thing is, I completed a 12 month PTSD program in 1996 and never received a disability rating for the disease.???

        I live with daily thoughts of VN and still have flashbacks, daymares, nightmares and sweats.

        • Sgt. Disabled says:

          The only way to light a fire under the V.A. is to:
          1. Write a letter to Obama and explain your delema
          2. Write a letter to V.A. Secretary Shinseki
          3. Write a letter to your Congressman
          4. Advise the V.A. that you were left with no choice than
          to write these letters.
          Believe me this is what I had to do and within 3 months I was 100% disabled!! FIGHT BACK!!! YOU WERE ONCE ONE OF THE PROUD AND DID YOUR DUTY! DO NOT JUST SIT THERE AND WAIT OR YOU WILL HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR NAME TO "RIP VAN WINKLE!!"

    • Richard says:

      "Now this looks like another way to just stick it to Vietnam area vets while giving the new vet's everything. The Battle just keep's going on and on for Vietnam area Vets" !!!!!!!

      I disagree with the last part of you comment. I haven't got any compensation for my PTSD and I've been waiting for awhile to be approved so I don't get everything like you assumed.

  5. I agree with Stephanie. Why are we "discussing" the D word when so much needs to be established and improved at the community level all those impaired by PTS/D both mil/vets and those in the general US population? Why is the term now more important than the condition a number of us face?

  6. once agian we see how not only the V.A> ,but the srevice orgnazations huritng vets. Now this is the same vets that they ask for money for to support thier idelology of stupiness. I think thye all think like the repubs just to hurt the vets at every turn. The only change we need is the V>A> to start doing thier job they are required to do for vets. apperently the new Secaratary only care for his freinds. what an A/H. Marine vet 73-80

  7. Vietvet65 says:

    Call it whatever the hell you want to–but I've been fighting it for over 40 years and it ain't no damn fun–In country 1965-66

  8. Swamprat says:

    this is just another way for the VA not to give benifits for PTSD especially now with all the Troops coming home . the VA can't and won't take care of Nam Vets.What makes you think they will treat todays vets any better

    • Richard says:

      They won't take care of the vets but look at the VA big wigs' bonuses. It's all a front from the VA secretary and his staff that they really care. Have a survey on how satisfy the vets on the care VA provides and the way we are compensated. They'll do anything to save money so they can have more for their pocket.

      • Bobby Fields says:

        The VA isn't trying to do this, it is several Veteran Service Organizations. The last Vice Chief of Staff of the Army also wanted to change it from PTSD to PTSS, or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, but the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army were undecided.

        Most mental health providers don't want to change it because then the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM) would have to be changed, which affects the entire mental health field, not just veterans. This issue is bigger than just us veterans.

  9. American physicians also have a high rate of suicide; however, they tend to refuse mental health treatment because they report that any mental health treatment, or psycho diagnoses whatsoever, causes further career, recovery, family, and social problems. Now if even physicians refuse psych treatment that alone would justify a full investigation of psych practices. It seems that we should ask why do physicians refuse mental health help, and then turn to suicide? Physicians and our brave veterans in common are refusing psych treatment because they report that psych terminology, and attitudes cause further problems. In 1999 the GAO made a comprehensive study of the abuses by staff within American mental health facilities. This was ordered by Senator Lieberman due to the abuse by mental health staff, and the resultant death of a 12 year old boy on an American mental health ward. The GAO report found significant evidence of patient abuse in many mental health facilities; however, they reported that their findings were hampered because of staff falsifying evidence by such methods as changing patient death records. The American public has not been fully informed of these findings, nor has the American press shown any interest in pursuing these atrocities. The history of mental health care is dismal and is replete with patient abuse, resultant family/social problems, suicide, and stigma. Mental health professionals invented stigma and they profit from it. They wish to blame society, the military, the family and everyone else for the stigma they created to justify their fees. The truth is all mental health "diagnoses" are reported by even psychiatrists to be unreliable, unaccountable, and are not based upon established medical or scientific methodology. please review http://www.antipsychiatry.ord or http://www.breggin.com or http://www.szasz.com Dr. Thomas Szasz is a Professor of Psychjiatry, and a highly regarded psychiatrist and he states that stigma is created by psych terminology to justify fees. Perhaps we should take notice of this. Dr. Szasz also wrote a famous review of mental health practices entitled "The Myth of Mental Illness" which would also be highly recommended. Our government, and insurance companies should review funding to mental health until a full investigation is made regarding the real issues involved. Too many families have suffered while funding to mental health services increases every year. Mental health is a politically powerful entity, and its professional have a huge impact on our politicians. These issues have been swept under the rug for far too long. Its high time for a complete overhaul of mental health practices. All one has to do is research what has been going on within mental health practices for decades. The truth will come to you.

  10. michael says:

    God Bless Veterans!!!Especially- all you Vietnam Vets-THANK YOU!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXAkN0t0BtM&fe

  11. Whatever they call it, it doesn't matter because as we sit here arguing over semantics the VA simply is refusing to treat anyone for anything. I've called my dr's nurse for 3 weeks and trying to call the vet rep at the Hampton, VA, nobody calls back. They simply refuse to treat anyone. If the service organizations would simply wake up and notice this little fact maybe we would get help.

  12. joe fugo akron ohio says:

    no matter what its called it dont go away. us vietnam vets were booed at when we came home.that added on to the ptsd from war.but one thing the mean way we were treated is helping the vets coming home now adays,one thing for sure the va and the government suck! have another senseless war like nam,and send the va and the crooked goverment to fight it.would never do nothing for this county again!oh yea it took me 13 years to fight the va to get my 100%for ptsd.

  13. I, too, was a military spouse. Now I'm a military widow. My husband was drafted and served in the infantry in Viet Nam 69/70, carrying the M-60. We were married in 67 and when he came home Thanksgiving Day 70, he was so different. In the 80's he had lots of problems and severe headaches every day, but no one to help. Then in 2001, we lived in Maryland, just 45 min north of DC. After 9/11, it all came back to him again. To top it off, he had two Vietnamese men he supervised at work. One day he came home from work and told me that when the two men squatted to eat their lunch (as they did every day) they had guns and were shooting at him. That was the day I knew we were in real trouble. He didn't work a day after that — the nightmares, nightsweats, waking by screaming from his dreams — on and on. Then the VA loaded him up on drugs — but nothing helped the headaches. He died in 2009 at the age of 59. I was his primary caregiver and I truly think after his death I suffered from PTSD also. These Viet Nam vets need help desperately and I am honored to know any one of them. I thank them all for their service. God Bless you all. After 42 years of marriage, I'd still take my husband back with the PTSD rather than have this loneliness without him. He died way too young.

    • LunaSky says:

      I truly feel your pain Pam, I have a very similar story. I am sorry for your loss, I know that your husband is irreplacable to you, and know that he is ALWAYS with you in yor heart and in your memories. God Bless you Pam, one day, when it's your time and God says so, You will be with him again!!

  14. Butch Frederickson says:

    There is only one reason that some want to remove the "D." If it is not a disorder it "can be fixed." Then it's up to a VA Dr. to declare someone fixed. We all know how well that works. This "stigma" problem came from the VA and their paid DRs., not those of us that suffer from it. Let's save these $s so that we can spend them on important things like the sex life of a frog in some rain forest. General Patton famously slapped a guy that was "shell shocked." Let's step back in history. It worked so well. Change the name, OK. Change the diagnosis and prognosis, NOT OK!
    Butch Frederickson, Three Tour Viet Vet

  15. Dick Clark says:

    I was held at the VA med cemter in St. Cloud, MN until I could get into a rehab in the private sector. When I left, it was noted that I was diagnosed with PTSD, a mental illness. I could not encourage anyone to seek help if you get a tag like that.

    • Marine223 says:

      PTSD is NOT a mental Illness! It is a Disorder,and there is NOTHING wrong with calling it that! Service members with PTSD,do not seek help because they DON'T THINK THEY HAVE IT! Just as I didn't for 40 years after Vietnam! 911 brought out the worst of it and I was AWAKENED to the fact and was MORE RECEPTIVE to it! Trail of Failures in the past, the 3 marriages, lack of higher achievements finally came to light! Young Veterans are Bullit Proof as was I, I wanted NOTHING to do with the Government after Vietnam!

  16. Change the name (letters), change the rating. Can I believe that the VA is that concerned about stigmatizing veterans ?

    This is about money and cut backs. If this is really just a social concern then just spend a few dollars in educating the public and leave the initials alone.

    The VA never does anything without a long term reason.

  17. Margaret says:

    I am a spouse of a Viet nam vet with PTSD. My question is why are you waisting the money needrd for all vets on such a trivial thing like changing PTSD to PTSI. What a waist of money? I think that we need to get back to the vets themselves. And I mean that for all vets. I am very very proud of all of them, no matter from what war, military branch or anything else. Get your heads out of your back sides and help them ALL., and forget the name. How stupid can you be?

  18. im a viet-nam vet it took me 43 years to get 100% benifits ptsd.unempl.

    • When did you 1st apply? Then how long did it take you? I'm sure it didn't take you 43yrs before they gave you a decision did it? My husband just signed up for his.

      • I was rated 70% ptsd 4/23/12 , from start to finish claim process took 18 months, a very grueling process, during that time NO communication from VA as to claim progress, C&p exam done 12/29/12, rating decision 4 months later. The process drains you as much as the condition you are claiming..Good luck RVN vet 68-70

        • He filed 5/17/2012 did mental evaluation same day. Got paperwork to them the next week and within 1 wk had a letter saying they were waiting for his 214 or 215 something from the service that they discharged him on that they wrote up that was wrong. They needed to re-write it with the right discharge (said he was a mental case when he left) although he still had an honorable discharge. That was over 20 yrs ago. He was in Dessert Storm.
          Evaluation said he had PTSD, COD, Depressed, and something else. Can't hold down a job, others abuse him, make fun of him. He is a wreck. You can see this just by looking at him. He paces constantly. Agitates easily. Trusts no one. Hates crowds. Hasn't seen a Dr. since he was in the service.
          So we will see how long it takes.

      • fromevansridge says:

        It took 2 years from my husband to get a decision, but you are dealing with the VA which is like dealing with Medicare. Stick with it, don't get discouraged, your husband is entitiled to his benefits. If you don't hear from anyone as in @Jake's situation, call your congressman or senator's office and complain, they office makes a call, it doesn't necessarily move the process any faster, but it can help in some situations. You cannot be complacent with the VA, they are unindated with claims and only so many people staffed. Good luck and God bless you and your husband.

    • shepard says:

      myself as well.

  19. I have done three tours to Iraq and am currently on my first one to Afghanistan. I know how PTSD affects people because I have it, but since I want to get a great job outside of the military I refuse to get diagnosed with it. I hear everyday how people are being refused jobs because of PTSD, yes this causes me not to claim PTSD. So change the name, don't change the name it really does not matter. Guarantee that those that have PTSD will be treated the same as those without it in the civilian sector and this would make a big difference. You would see a lot more people that have PTSD coming for help. Teach the civilian world that PTSD does not mean someone is more or less incompetent. We should treat this the same way we treated Aids, educate, fight for the rights of the people who have it, and prove that PTSD is not a life ender but that life can go on for these people. This is how you get more people to come out with this disorder (yes, I called it a disorder because really that is what it is).

    • Key City CPO says:

      I know the Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is working hard at "demystifying" PTSD to employers. But I agree that no one wants to jeopardize their careers with that diagnosis. I served 20 years and at some point I knew I had PTSD, but kept it hidden. I feared losing my NEC or even being discharged.

  20. I am a Vietnam Gold Star sister, and mom to a wonderful Marine serving right now, and I am studying psych. Please know that PTSD has degrees of severity. The more trauma, the more severe the symptoms. PTSD IS CURABLE and there are many places where veterans can get free counseling and free treatment. SEARCH the internet. There are different ways to be treated, the newest being virtual! You don't even have to talk. Search the internet to learn about the different treatments. Also, there are hotlines you can call anonymously. Some are manned by veterans. If you have been through this, volunteer to talk to others. Please note, depression is a separate issue and needs to be addressed first. Take care and God bless! P.S. Civilians get it too!

    • PTSD can be either acute or chronic; the acute phase occurring directly after the trauma, while the chronic phase can come along much later. In the acute phase, PTSD is said to be treatable and curable. In its chronic phase, it is only treatable. One must learn to live with it and to cope with it.

  21. Larry Hearold says:

    Taking the "D" away also means that thousands of vets that are disabled by PTSD will lose their benefits. That is the whole idea behind this, not to "remove the stigma" as stated. Today PTSD has no mose "stigma" than a person suffering from bi-polar disorder or any other treatable mental condition!

  22. Hockeymom68 says:

    I am a disabled veteran with PTSD as well as MST (Military Sexual Trauma) talk about a double sterotype. It still bewilders me who came up this that stigma. Try to explain that diagnosis to anyone. It basically says it all. Why don't we think about changing that terminology first. I would imagine their arent too many men with that diagnoisis, but since I used to work in disability eligibility I do know that women were not the only ones that suffered such incidents. Can you imagine women trying to deal with the stigma, then having men to as well.

  23. Ricardo Wade says:

    yesterday i called a san antonio vet center seeking help for my ptsd (i'm va rated 70% service-connected). my trauma involved treating marines caught up in a horrific fire at base of mt. fuji in 1979. i was told i wasn't eligible for counseling because my ptsd wasn't combat-related. ptsd only gets worse if left untreated and i fail to see what geography has to do with. ptsd is ptsd. it is hard enough to ask for help. it is shameful to be told to go away when you do. could we concentrate on helping our vets? changing what you call it makes no sense? making counseling available for service-connected sufferers of ptsd does.

  24. If you stop and think about the abuse the brain goes through from just being exposed to gun shots and shooting over and over you will realize this damage has been done not by just psychological damage but actual brain damage of these brains that are still not fully developed at the age in which they incur this disorder as you call it. It is an injury inflicted by war. Every veteran probably does not fit into the same category. Some of it is from the traumas of seeing your buddies killed and you surviving. Put the ones trying to change things into the situations of these young at the time service people and see if they don't come away with the same injury. A mind is something, you cannot regain. You can get some better but it only gives a mechanism for coping, it does not erase the damage done!

  25. Save our money and get more help for the Veterans with PTSD. They don't care what you call it, they only want help. Unbelieveable!!

  26. Pete Gonzales says:

    Agree, disorder sounds bad. Word should be removed.

  27. Lance Lindgren says:

    As a pastor, a "Caring for Returning Vets" facilitatior of the ELCA, AND as a Vietnam Veteran, I believe the term PTSD should NOT be changed! Call it like it is; it's a "disorder" to the normalcy of one's life and well-being, not just with one's self, but with one's family!

  28. mike critchfield says:

    I personally don't care what they call it…just keep treating me!!! The last thing I think of is being offended at the "D"…good grief. Let's concentrate on important things like getting claims approved for the thousands waiting after submitting their claims.

  29. Milo Gordon says:

    The issue is not the name of the disorder but the attitude of the people in this country. As long as a person with a PTSD condition is restricted from purchasing or possesing weapons and restricted from particpating in certain activities because of their condition, there will be a stigma attached to the condition. People with mental disorders are not inherently more dangerous that the general population. They are just treated that way. In fact, because they have accepted the diagnosis, they are being treated and therefore probably safer. Those who refuse the diagnosis are running around untreated and unidentified. They are the ones who cause all the mental health problems for which the rest of us are blamed. This observation comes from about 30 years as a treatment provider working with predomantly clients who had a dual diagnosis of a chemical addiction and PTSD.

    • PTSD does not restrict you from being to purchase a weapon or get a CCW.. I am 100% disabled with PTSD and have never had a problem.

    • fromevansridge says:

      I am the wife of a Vietnam veteran with PTSD who was not diagnosed until years after retiring from the Corps. He, as many young veterans (and older ones, as well) don't beleive they suffer from PTSD, so they do not seek treatment right away, because many do not have symptoms until some trigger event brings it to the forefront. Treatment and meds are the key, but support groups, cousneling and work by the veteran are key. It is a process, and it's not like any other illness where you get your meds, and your are cured…My husband cannot own a firearm, but I can, which is how we deal with that restriction. It's never too late to seek help, get diagnoised, start treatment. God Bless you all.

    • Msgt F. L. Anderson says:

      About 13 years ago my world turned upside down.. I was mad at everyone and I couldn't sleep.. I would walk around my house all night until I was just exhausted and would collapse in my chair.. It took three years for them to figure out that I had PTSD.. I had been out of Viet-nam for 28 years when a good buddy of mine I was stationed with came up to see me and that is when it happened.. Anyhow they got me on medicine to control the excess something in my brain and I haven't had a problem since. Thank you VA !!! The doctors said that I had put Viet-Nam in the back of my brain and when my friend came up and we started to talk about Viet-Nam it brought it all back again.. I tell you I never want to go back to those days and I don't care what it is call it. I believe it is a disorder and the medicine took care of it .. I have bee on the medicine for over ten years now and if I don't take it I can feel it coming back with the dreams and unable to sleep. Call it what you want but treat those who have it.. We have to many Vets living in the streets with paper boxes for a home… Thank you for listening to my thoughts…

  30. I am a combat marine from the Viet nam war. I have suffered from PTSD for 40 some odd years I am 100% dissabled because of it . PTS – PTSD ? It is what it is. R. Hurt Pocatello, Id.

  31. Destinite says:

    I have suffered what I think is PSTD for many years since Vietnam but the stigma, cost of not getting a particular job and potentially disallowing my carry permit have prevented me from seeking help for my depression. Now I fear it is been too long and still could affect me adversely, so I am not seeking help.

    • You really need to go in to the Vet Med Center and get some help. You would be surprised and the help you can get. It is never too late!

    • fromevansridge says:

      I am the wife of a Vietnam veteran with PTSD who was not diagnosed until years after retiring from the Corps. He was volunnteering to help counsel young veterans returning from Afghanistan or Iraq, but they have all dropped out, in part, because they don't think anything is wrong with them, in part, because after a few sessions they think they got it, how to self treat. My point to you is it is never too late to seek treatment. If you don't want to deal with a doctor, then I suggest that you find a veterans group and just attend meetings. If you want to talk to someone, my husband will help you, just send me your email address.

    • Tom Sankowski says:

      Go to the VA as soon as possible, don't walk, run and ask for help. There is no need to wait , I know this for a fact , I am a person who suffered from PTSD and found help , I'm not cured but I'm a hell of alot better.

  32. Ive been diagnosed with P.T.S.D. this a serious thing for those that do have
    it bad dreams of thing happening right in front of you that changes your whole life and mind and thought patterns of the way you think unless you experience it
    the average person just cant understand it i feel they need to leave the D because this is a train of thought that disrupts our lives.

  33. Jim Hutchins, MSW says:

    Hello my name is Jim Hutchins and I am Submarine Veteran and a MSW who specializes working with people living with the symptoms of trauma (PTSD), Vets and non-vets a like. This is the phrase that I use when working with people who have been diagnosed with PTSD, because it puts things in to contact with truth and understanding, rather than an acronym. People are not their diagnosis and therefore I treat them as individuals. It breaks my heart when I read in the paper of a soldier who is drinking, and was triggered by a noise and then shot his girlfriend and later didn’t realize he had made the 911 call that saved her life. I have also found it to be a 2 way street in that there needs to be sufficient services for Vets, but the Vets also has to engage in services. Cont —-

  34. Jim Hutchins, MSW says:

    Jim Hutchins Con't—– As a way to destigmafy PTSD we need to normalize the symptoms as related to the experience. It would me more abnormal not to have any issues after experiencing and living through a traumatic event then it is to live with the symptoms of trauma. I encourage people to enter therapy and utilize medication in conjunction when necessary, along with other resources to help manage their symptoms of trauma if they want their life to move in a different direction. PTSD is a lifelong sentence that requires maintenance to keep it at bay, but I tell people that is most certainly well worth the effort! Best wishes to those who have been wounded either physically, emotionally, or spiritually! There is help and people in your life who care about you, please get the help you deserve! :) To everyone I hope you have a great 4th of July in remembrance of the founding of our great nation! — Jim

  35. Now the military already uses PTS, because anyone that experiences trauma has post traumatic stress, but it becaumes a disorder when it becomes complicated and does not go away with time and minimal intervention. In reality the time element is the big difference, many people feel PTSD happens right away, but in reality it should not be considered a diagnosis until a reasonable time has gone by, generally around 6 months. A parallel is calling grief depression, while the symptoms are the same the cause is not and grief related depression generally diminishes with time.

  36. Michael says:

    Stigma is a very difficult and complicated problem. Reducing stigma is a laudable goal. I think army leaders are at a loss at how to "change a culture" to make mental health treatment less stigmatizing. Changing the word is much easier than doing the hard work that it would take to change a culture. In fact, I am not so sure that an army general even has power to change a culture. That takes years. So we are left with them changing a word.

  37. I Also has PTSD. Fortunatly with the help of a VA counceler and the prescribed medication, I no longer have flash backs. Steve A.

    • Edward Amyx says:

      I can not believe that the American legion is trying to get this changed its bull **** it’s bad enough that the govermeant don’t won’t to help the vets now, now the American Legion is trying to stiff the vets, what the hell.I think all of us combat vets need to get together and start our own association called combat vets of America and elect a combat vet for our leader and fight these idiots.

  38. medical retiree says:

    It never seems to amaze me. Of all the problems we have in this world…the letter “D” is one of them. I suffer from PTSD and am medically retired out because of it. Now this is just my opinion…I don’t care what people think about my disorder. I did what I had to do to keep those fighting the good fight in our country safe and capable to continue. Then I see stuff like this…wow. I bet some lawyer or someone like that got this all going. Come on soldiers! Weather we are still in the military or not…we are the elite, warriors. Do we really want to raise our weapons for the letter “D”? Just my cut on the issue. Much love to all who served and the families who stood by us. God bless!

  39. Its no wonder our healthcare and government system has the issues it does today. My husband has PTSD from OIF and I'll be the first to tell ya that the PTSD clinic at the VA has definately helped him, that is when he had a doctor that actually cared about his well being. I agree, almost everyone that has been through something terrible will have PTS, but its the kind of things that our soldiers are currently going through overseas, have gone through, and unfortunately will continue to experience that make it a disorder. There are so many that have seen and done things unimaginable to the everyday citizen, but yet feel that they will be critized if they seek help to deal with those events. Its a different world in war, and a whole lot harder to deal with when they get back in civilization.

    • … continued from above….In my opinion… the people wanting to remove the D, need to find something else to focus on and leave the PTSD alone. Why is it that once something seems to start going right and soldiers start seeking help that they feel they need to change it. If they are worried about image, how about all of us as American citizens start standing up and supporting our soldiers and thanking them and try to help them with whatever it is they need for all the sacrifices, they and their families have given. Sorry to vent, but there's more things that need to be done to help our soldiers than worrying about wether or not the D needs to be removed… Thanks again to all our US Military and your families, past, present, and future!! You are why we can celebrate our independence and the freedoms that we have today!!! God Bless America!!!

  40. D Ballard USN says:

    If we would spend as much time on PTSD outreach and recovery as a great many people have on this "D", we might have a better outcome. I am retired military and two tours in Vietnam, one in Salmolia and one in Bahrain. I also have a PTSD disability and recieve adequate care at the VA and the Vet Center. One has to actually work to come to terms with the things people do in combat. But, I would not trade one day of my duty to the American people and this great nation under GOD! Get over the "D" and get to work.

  41. medical retiree says:

    V.C. Thank you so much for all your sacrifices mam! For standing by another great soldier through it all. It warms my heart to see the wives of men in arms posting such wonderful success stories. You all are as much apart of military as we are and I’m sure I’m not the only one who says “thank you for your service ” mam. This goes to all of you great families who stood by us…thank you and may God bless you all.

  42. medical retiree says:

    This goes out to all our Vietnam vets “Welcome Home” and “Thank You”. I served in OIF/OEF so thank you for all who stood before me and paved the way! You are truly my Heroes and make proud to have served for you as part of the great American people who gave it all for God and Country. GOD BLESS!!!

  43. Let's see if I can get this right: 1- American veterans have a high rate of suicide. 2- American physicians also have a high rate of suicide. 3- Both our wonderful veterans, and physicians report that mental health terminology causes suicide, further career, and family problems, and poor recovery because of of the stigma generated from pejorative, and demeaning psych terminology . Physicians and many psychiatrists report that mental health terminology is unaccountable, unreliable, and cannot be quantified, nor measured. (Science, and medicine require mathematics, and quantification.) Most psycho-diagnoses are given by non-medical psychologists who are not considered as highly competent healthcare providers. Many believe that psychologists should be carefully supervised by nurses, and physicians. 4-
    We know that mental health stigma has been a huge problem, and people have suffered from it for decades. 5- In 1999 the abuse of patients by mental health staff has been investigated by a General Accounting Office comprehensive study. 6- In 1999 the US Congress held closed door investigations of mental health attitudes, and practices. 7- US Senators have complained, and demanded an investigation due to even children being tortured and killed on American psych wards. The American mental health system has a huge amount of political power, and contributes significantly to both political parties. 8- Please visit http://www.antipsychiatry.org. or http://www.breggin.com or www. szasz.com or please read the "Myth of Mental Illness" by Thomas Szasz, M.D. Dr. Szasz is a Professor of Psychiatry, and a world renown psychiatrist who has openly criticized its practices. Dr. Breggin, and Dr. Szasz comment on the harm of stigma, how it used to justify psych fees, and psych financial parity with other medical specialties. 9- Mental health professional oversight does not appear to exist. The American press has completely ignored the story of these atrocities, and has failed to report on these issues. 10- Summary: Is it not high time for a complete investigation of mental health services by our government? Have not these atrocities been swept under the rug for far too long? Consider this: mental health funding has increased every year for decades with no apparent oversight nor accountability. ITS TIME FOR AN OVERHAUL OF MENTAL HEALTH PRACTICES, AND NOT JUST THE USUAL TUNE-UP.

  44. As a veteran myself its hard to believe that the American military cannot see right through what is going on here. All one has to do is research this dismal history of self-serving, abusive, and corrupt American mental health care in this country. The truth will come to you.

  45. Bobby Fields says:

    Even if the "D" is dropped from PTSD, those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress will still receive treatment from mental health providers. Removing the "D" will not remove the general stigma from mental health, so I think this would only have a very minimal positive effect, if it helps at all. When I sought help from the VA and local Vet Center, I don't even know if I realized what PTSD was, I was just more concerned with the fact that I was confused and scared at the overwhelming emotions I was experiencing.

    Most of us are less concerned with what PTSD is called than we are with addressing the pain, anger, confusion, frustration, guilt, hypervigilance, etc we experience after deployment. We are concerned with how potential employers view us as returning combat veterans. Those serving are concerned that any problems they are experiencing may be held against them, despite the fact that the chain of command is encouraging people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress symptoms to come forward to get help.

  46. Catfish Hunter says:

    Ah so, So this is what PTSD is. Worrying about what to call it? "Come on people now smile on your brother every body get together" and so on. Actually I like the way I felt the next day after drinking beer compared to the pills they give me to take care of that problem, Wow did I say that right?

  47. Ed Fake says:

    I have worked with veterans from WWI to the present. PTSD has been called shell shock, battle fatique, anxiety neurosis, schizophrenia in the past. To change the name now after 30 years of calling it PTSD is not going to change the public's perception of the condition. Policemen, firemen, medical staff, rape victims are all suffering from PTSD. We need more time spent on hiring personnel to work with the PTSD and less time spent on what to call it.

  48. Bob Fadem says:

    I am new to Military.com I never served in the military but my family members did. I have been working with people who have PTSD and have had success is disabling the Disorder 100% of the time so far but I have not worked with veteran's yet. I do not know how to find veterans in the San Diego area that suffer from PTSD. I want to work with 5 or 10 free of charge to make sure that my process of disabling the disorder works with people who have endured combat stress. If you are such a person or know one please call me at 760-298-7041. I am offering this for free, I will do all I can but I cannot guarantee success at this point. Bless all of you for your service that lets me live in freedom. Bob

    • Pat Phinney says:

      Just go to a local vet center. There are vets there that have been classified in varying degrees for PTSD. I do not agree with changing the acronym. It is PTSD and the european model (canada) does not set well with me. It is a disorder and those who have a problem with it need to get over it. War is hell, and will always remain so, that said, soldiers will have readjustment problems and there must be systems in place to deal with it.

  49. Have any of you spent time in the military or worked for the government? Even if every one agreed (which they won't) all of us will be dead before any change would take place. To change the DSM IV takes forever. PTSD is not the sole property of the government. There are a lot of folks involved. In the mean time put you efforts into encouraging those you know need care to get it from the VA or one of the many free services available.The VA Medical side does a pretty good job over all. But if you schedule an appointment at the VA– GO. I'm tired of no shows denying me an appointment. And by the way, if you don't want to comply with your treatment plan don't waste their time.

  50. In the first place psychs did not use professionally well accepted scientific, nor medical research methodology to produce the DSM ("Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses".) , That is why the DSM is separate from other legitimate medical diagnoses, and why non-medical psychologists are able, to give out these so called "diagnoses which have absolutely no medical nor scientific accountability, or reliability. Psychs have simply invented the so called "psych diagnoses" within the DSM. Psychs merely vote on what is in the DSM at their national conventions. Accordingly when gays became a powerful political force, psychs merely voted "homosexuality" out of the DSM, as a so called "mental illness". The concept of "homosexuality" being a "mental illness" further complicated, and stigmatized gays, and they demanded that psychs refute it which psychs did. Therefore all this is based upon politics, and money. Please look at the record on this. Therefore the DSM can be changed immediately if psychs so desire. Its very clear from all this that psychs will not change the DSM as long as their cash flow continues, and the political pressure is not significant to change it..

  51. medical retiree says:

    Soldiers don’t let anyone tell you that your wasting there time and the ones that do you just move on cause they aren’t there for you they are there for themselves and and to make their job a little less stressed. As long as you hold on and keep moving forward no matter how many times you fall down you just get up and keep moving. I have been in and out of the VA so many times I stopped counting but I never just give up or listen to anyone who says stop wasting my time. I just tell them I’m in this position because I love my country and my countrymen, because I love God and the blessings he gives every day and I even fought for you sir/mam. Thank you for your time and God bless but I will report your behavior and find someone who is here to help us and no themselves. So pop smoke and keep your eyes open for selfless service. God bless us all.

  52. medical retiree says:

    Mike, i’ll pray for you bro. If your a vet thank you for your service, if you work for the VA or are affiliated with helping soldiers then thank you for your service but please my friend don’t ever kick a man while he is down. Telling a soldier to not waste the VA’s time after all his/her selfless service to God and country is a smack in the face. If our whole country would live life on selfless service we would be an even greater nation than we already are. As for the soldiers out there like myself…every time you fall you just get right back up and keep moving forward. Just because you miss an appointment doesn’t mean stop trying. The more you stand back up the more you learn about yourself and what is needed to help you cope with what you are going through. If someone tells you your wasting there time then thank them for what time they gave you and pop smoke. Find someone who understand that falling is ok but quitting is unacceptable. Fight the good fight till the battle is won. Mistakes happen but learn from them. God bless and good luck. Mike your in my prayers…God bless.

    • Sorry Dude, but I'm entitled to my opinion as you are yours. I believe you are promoting dependency and self denial. God has provided the tools to heal but you have to believe, accept what he's given you and use it. I've been in 3 wars and had cancer twice. If you have the symptoms of PTSD seek help, follow the treatment plan, work at it. You may never be the same again, but you know your problems, you can control them as best you can and you know where to get help when over whelmed. I did it Dude, and so can you. Pray for those who can't and there's lots of them out there and no body knows what to do for them. Minister to them, you might be able to bring some of them back. Maybe not all the way but even a little bit helps. God is always there, waiting to help them but they have to accept and believe. It;s tough but when it happens there's no experience like it. Oh, by the way, don't talk like that to a soldier, chances are he's read the Bible and he'll see right through you.

  53. m b collie says:

    Here we go again. 90% of vn vets *******, moaned, and groaned every day they were in. You people make them sound like they looked forward to every day they were in. I served 20+ in the Air Force and that was something I planned on since I was 16. I am a vn era veteran as well as Desert Shield /Storm vet and served with pride. Retired the first tune at 37 and went on to retire from civil service, became 100% VA and SSA disability. I permanently retired at 52. I started my VA claims in 1994 and and got 100% in 2009 with 6 disabilities with no help from any service organization. The one claim that I asked dav to help me with has been in the system since 2004, and all they did was sit in front of the judge and stare at the wall. Any way, if you didn’t do at least 20 years sit in the corner and keep mouth shut. As far as I’m concerned your benefits should be prorated. I couldn’t see, hear, smell, or feel my enemy, but I did my job for 12 to 16 hours six days a week and was happy to get the pay and benefits that I worked for. Quit your whining, clean up your act and quit looking like you’re living in a dump. Quit living up to the stereotype everyone has of our generation. You’re embarrassing the rest of us. Be thankful for what you’re getting compared to what you gave. And don’t come back with “some gave all”, because I worked with guys that gave all, but we knew what the risks were from the beginning. You were the type of people I loved kicking out. You are same way now as before you went in. In other words, the military is not to blame for your problems, you are malingerers and the VA knows it. Just stand in the corner with your hand out and had complain about everything you get.

  54. Any physician will tell you that psych so called "diagnoses" are not medically, nor scientifically credible, and are NOT properly scrutinized with proper oversight. Psych "diagnoses" cannot be measured which is the first requirement of all science, and medicine. Psych "diagnoses" cannot even be scientifically proven to exist. If fact many psychiatrists including Thomas Szasz, M.D, and Peter Breggin,M.D. report that psych "diagnoses" such as indeed "PTSD" are not based upon medicine at all. (Please see http://www.szasz.com or http://www.breggin.com or http://www.antipsychiatry.org The stigma generated from psych lingo needs to be fully examined, investigated, and funding for psych practices needs to be reviewed. Healthcare professionals report that psychologists are NOT considered independently competent healthcare professionals, but indeed psychologists are narrowly-trained in a very controversial non-quantifiable field. Psychologists even cannot legally change a bandage. It is a clinical error to send psychologists "out in the field" to evaluated anyone. Once a psych "diagnosis" label is attached to any individual all other medical scrutiny tends to stop. Physicians and nurses must always carefully supervise psychologists, and they should always oversee any findings that psychologists make, regarding any form of patient care. PLEASE CONSIDER REVIEWING THE DISMAL, AND ABUSIVE HISTORY OF ATROCITIES WITHIN "MENTAL HEALTH" PRACTICES. YOU MAY HAVE TO DIG IT OUT; HOWEVER, THE TRUTH WILL SURELY COME TO YOU.

  55. The Twentieth Man says:

    I seem to have been drafted once again. I just discovered I'm involuntarily logged in to this intensedebate.com network without so much as a "by-your-leave". That being said, I am a Việt Nam War veteran. I recognized that I was developing "a bad case of the yips" nine months into my tour of duty.
    I have a great deal to say about PTSD (Post Traumatic-Stress Disorder).
    I have a blog on many topics but what may be of interest to you can be found following this link: http://twentiethman.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/a-le
    If I'd been blinded or lost a limb to war I'd just have to live with it.
    In a nutshell, what PTSD teaches us (and the government always denies)
    is that man was never meant for war.

  56. Old Chief says:

    Too many non-hackers,wimps,malingerers and just plain slackers claiming this disability. Makes it difficult for the truly deserving to be heard. My heart goes out to those heroes.

  57. The Army doesn't give two Ss about soldiers. My husband has done 5 tours Iraq x 4, Afghanistan x 1 and is gearing up to head back to Afghanistan in a couple of months. He has repeatedly asked for help as a senior NCO and he gets NONE. He was sent to one counselor who told him "to go to his happy place". He couldn't possibly fill out any form they give him more negatively and they just push him along. The Army uses people up and spits them out. It doesn't care about families or soldiers PERIOD. As he draws within a couple months of this next deployment he is coming totally undone. Such simple things as not being able to find his cell phone could turn him postal. He will break everything within arm's reach, tyrade, throw fits. Finally, find the phone and be fine. He drinks excessively, he is a bear at work and home and they just keep working him 18 hours a day and deploying him. This is the thanks you get for multiple deployments and 16+ years of service. THEY DO NOT CARE.

    • My heart goes out to you…I am a former army wife of a Viet Nam vet…who also suffers from PTSD..all i can do is urge you and your spouse to keep trying for help..there are those that really do care..you just have to find them..we have been very fortunate here to have found several who care..my husband has several things going on with him a lot attributed to agent orange…i dealt with a lot of the things you talk about ..the moods..short fuses..God Bless you and Good Luck

  58. Phillip Flores says:

    how would u get SSA disability, I'm receiving 100% disability from V.A.

    • John Boyd says:

      Apply to SSA for disability – usually takes a lawer. Many do nothing but work with you on your behalf to battle the evil SSA. The lawers get 25 % of the first 12 months or a fixed amount, whichever is less. They really helped me – getting 100% from both VA and SSDI.
      God Bless

    • Quintin Brown says:

      Go to SSA.gov and apply online or go into a local Social Security Office.

  59. Quintin Brown says:

    I retired from the Army in 2006 and PTSD is one of my many illnesses. Shortly after retiring I was granted 60% VA Disability and after a 6 year fight with the VA, that went all the way to the US Court of Appeals I was finally increased to 100%, shortly there after I was approved for Social Security Disability.

    The military is not the enemy and everyone that serves today volunteered. My advice to any Service Member is to continually document your issues so that when you separate, you can submit a well documented claim to the VA for compensation. Just like any other organization, the military does not compensate you or provide any benefits/compensation unless you retire from them. After Service, your benefits, medical, compensation continues at the VA; no other organization offers that. I'm retired, I receive Social Security and compensation from the VA; I'm very well taken care of. So please don't bash the military, the VA or the Government period. You might have to stand in line, complete forms, file appeals and straight up fight for your entitlements, but eventually you will receive what you are entitled to.

    Concerning treatment of PTSD and other psychological disorders, both in the military and the VA; it does not exists! The Health Care Community has decided it's less expensive to medicate than provide treatment. Although there are many treatment options, they only give you medication. The reason I had a very long fight with the VA, is I refused the medication; they tried to give me one to two pills for each condition. Trust me, medication makes it worst. I treat my disorders with early morning exercise, a healthy lifestyle and staying away from people/situations which cause me stress.

    Before being fired from my last job, I bounced around from job to job when my disabilities made it to difficult to work there. I'm proud of my Service to this Country and if I had to do it over again a I would. I don't blame anyone for my issues and than God that I am alive.