When men and women enlist in the military, they understand the risk of potential injury that comes with serving their country. What they may be less prepared for are injuries that cannot be seen, caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a psychological condition that affects roughly 8 million people in the United States annually*, and can affect both veterans and non-veterans. To create awareness and encourage education on this condition, June is designated as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month.
The Origins of PTSD Awareness Month
In 2010, Senator Kent Conrad sought official recognition of PTSD via a “day of awareness” in honor of Staff Sergeant Joe Biel, who struggled with the disorder after two tours in Iraq. His birthday, June 27th, was selected as the official PTSD Awareness Day, and is recognized annually.
Due to the prevalence of the condition, in 2014, the Senate designated the month of June as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, with the goals of reducing the stigma associated with PTSD and to encourage those who are suffering its effects to get the help they need.
Seeing the Signs and Getting Help
For people living with PTSD, the symptoms can cause significant distress. Some people suffer from a variety of symptoms with varying degrees of severity. They can range from irritability, difficulty sleeping, being jumpy or easily startled, to suicidal thoughts and self-destructive behaviors. Others may repeatedly experience the trauma in the form of flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive thoughts about the event.
Both the medical and military communities acknowledge the realities of PTSD. Effective treatment is available, and it varies by individual. The most important things are to encourage them to get help and realize you or your loved one are not alone in this battle. For more information on resources for PTSD, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs official site.
If you or someone in your life is experiencing PTSD, there are multiple resources available for immediate help. Call 1-800-273-8255, text 838255 or connect with a crisis responder online. This support is free and available to all service members, veterans, and their families and friends.
*U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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