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Final paper

  1. 1. Miles 1Adam MilesMrs. LesterHon World Lit19 April 2012 Shaping Sheet Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, has become a major problem for the soldiersserving in the United States Armed Forces. Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,the number of PTSD cases have drastically increased; up to 400% in some cases.The VeteransAdministration is trying to help our veterans recover. There are also many charities and otherfacilities that are helpful to veterans. However, more needs to be done to prevent PTSD fromoccurring in combat and researchers need to find a more dependable and successful treatment togive to our veterans.It is essential that the society of the United States understand the nature ofthis epidemic so that it can help veterans adapt to civilian life. PTSD is a disorder that affects the mental state of many of the veterans that return fromthe wars in the Middle East.Before learning about the available treatment for this disease, oneought to know how the disease is defined. According to the American PsychologicalAssociation, PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is defined as an anxiety problem thatdevelops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident ornatural disaster. People with PTSD may relive the event via intrusive memories, flashbacks andnightmares; avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma; and have anxious feelings theydidn’t have before that are so intense their lives are disrupted.PTSD has become a major problemin the modern wars. Every year, more soldiers develop PTSD than the year before. Somestatistics claim that there has been up to a 400 percent increase in PTSD cases in soldiers in the
  2. 2. Miles 2recent years.In sheer numbers, there have been 236,000 cases of PTSD out of 500,000 surveyedsoldiers in one study.These soldiers have been fighting since the beginning of the wars.According to this survey, almost fifty percent of the soldiers that have fought since the beginningof the war have developed PTSD.PTSD has become a major problem in the army, and is mostlikely caused by the brutality of today’s wars. The veterans of the US military have developed PTSD because of the type of combat thatis seen in today’s wars.Fighting styles used by the enemies of the US military create a high stressenvironment. As an army report puts it, “fighting insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan andIraq has been a nearly nonstop exercise in patrols, raids and firefights with no real battle lines.Even at a forward operating base, soldiers can be hit by a rocket, a suicide bomber or an Afghanwho turns and starts shooting Americans.”Due to the fear of all of these tactics, soldiers areconstantly under stress. Constant stress along with stressful events can lead to PTSDdevelopment.Another cause of PTSD is redeployment. Take Sgt. Bales for example, the soldierwho went on a killing spree supposedly due to PTSD. He had served three yearlong deploymentsin Iraq, and had witnessed some heavy firefights.This is the same for many soldiers. Thesoldiers’ minds cannot endure traumatic events. Logically, the more chances a person has toencounter a traumatic event that can cause PTSD, the more likely he is to develop this mentaldisease. A third reason for the development is the little time for recovery during service. Somesoldiers, such as Eric Fowler, felt like they were always on fighting. He said, “We had 24/7guard duty and we usually had 30-hour shifts.”This duty was usually spent in a Humvee, and thetime for rest in between was even shorter. Soldiers most likely took a major blow to their mentalstate due to the limited amount of rest time that they received.The horrible sights that soldiers see
  3. 3. Miles 3during war are the cause for PTSD. When these soldiers return home, PTSD can have a majoreffect on their lives. Whether it is merely everyday life or violent crimes directed at others or eventhemselves, PTSD severely affects soldiers that return home to the United States.The first waythat PTSD affects veterans is in their civilian lives. One veteran, who did not wish to have hisfull name disclosed, said, “I was always having nightmares at night, and certain things trigger it:just, loud noises, or, I don’t like people behind me a lot of the time, or stuff like that. I don’t likemalls with a lot of people in it. I hate it.”This veteran cannot even enjoy sleeping at night orgoing to a mall. He has obviously been so mentally wounded by the war that everyday lifebecomes difficult. The sad thing is that he is so ashamed about this that he would not give his fullname.Soldiers with PTSD are more likely to commit violent crimes upon returning to civilianlife. An example of this is veteran Nelson Hopkins Sr. Hopkins was just recently convicted ofarmed robbery and earlier convicted of second degree robbery. He has sought out treatment forhis PTSD with little success.Hopkins is just one of the many veterans with PTSD who hascommitted violent crimes because of it. These crimes span from the robberies committed byveterans like Hopkins to murders in some cases.While some of the veterans suffering from PTSDuse violence against others, others show violence towards themselves. An army report that therewere 115 suicides directly related to PTSD in just one year during the Iraq and AfghanistanWars. These veterans are so troubled by their mental state that they feel like the only way to endit is to kill themselves. More should be done to prevent veterans from reaching this point.Thiscondition obviously affects soldiers’ lives greatly. In an effort to help these veterans, manypsychologists prescribe medicine to the veterans.
  4. 4. Miles 4 The medicine that is used to treat PTSD in soldiers does not work on the scale that itshould for the United States’ mentally wounded warriors. Most veterans who return home aregiven antidepressants, sleeping pills, or anxiety medicines to help them cope with theirPTSD.These medicines help some soldiers with their symptoms. However, these medicines donot prevent the symptoms from recurring. A large number of the medications used to treat PTSDpatients are opiate based. This medication has not shown to cure soldiers of PTSD. Also, whencombined with other medication, these pills can cause suicide attempts.The last thing that ourveterans should be receiving is a medicine that can possibly cause suicide. These medicationshave not shown enough success to be used.A second problem that can be caused by medicationis simply taking too much of it. One soldier, Spc. Victor Lewis, accused his battalion at FortBragg of overmedicating soldiers.Overmedication does not improve a patient’s condition. In fact,it can cause problems in the recovery process.There are a number of problems with themedication used to treat veterans, but there are still problems left for veterans to face. A common problem that soldiers with PTSD face is receiving treatment from a goodfacility.A problem among many treatment centers and army bases is understaffing. The armystandard ratio of mental health doctors to patients is one to fifty. However, some military basesas few as to 1 doctor to 265 patients.This is a major problem for soldiers with PTSD. Withoutenough psychiatrists, these centers cannot do an effective job in treating each individual case.Active duty soldiers with PTSD face yet another problem. Army bases continue to deploy anduse these soldiers even when they have developed PTSD. Of the 76,176 soldiers diagnosed withPTSD between 2000 and 2011, 65,236 of them were at some stage in their deployment. Onemight wonder why these soldiers were not relieved of duty. The answer is most likely becausethe military needs all the people it can get to serve. Another possible challenge is the chance of a
  5. 5. Miles 5misdiagnosis. At Fort Bragg Army Base, there have been alleged misdiagnosis in an attempt todeny veterans military healthcare.This was most likely done in an attempt to save money.However, the veterans who have been misdiagnosed are most likely suffering greatly due toit.The facilities that are used to treat soldiers have problems that can slow recovery, but there arestill more problems for our veterans. Remaining problems for veterans with PTSD exist.One problem exists in the initialdiagnosis. Up to 80 percent of PTSD cases exist with another psychiatric disorder.The otherdisorder can mask PTSD, which makes it harder to see the symptoms. This can make diagnosingPTSD very difficult. Symptoms of PTSD can also recur when triggered. For instance, manyveterans with PTSD can have flashbacks if they hear a loud noise, or if someone stands too closebehind them. These flashbacks are the very problem that doctors are trying to cure. The triggersstunt the recovery of the veteran with PTSD.One of the biggest problems for veterans with PTSDis that they never sought treatment to begin with. Many veterans do not want this help becausethey see it as a sign of weakness. Others feel that treatment will not help them, and others do notunderstand that they have PTSD.Obviously, there are many problem that face veterans with, butthere are also many things that are being done to help these veterans. The military and Veterans Administration have dedicated a large amount of time andmoney to helping veterans with PTSD.The Army does want to find a cure. Since 2007, the Armyhas invested $710 million in research.This shows that the US Army is concerned about thisproblem. Hopefully, this large amount of money will find a better treatment for PTSD. TheVeterans Administration offers many services to veterans suffering from PTSD. These servicesinclude, but are not limited to: One-to-one mental health assessment and testing, medicines, One-to-one psychotherapy and also family therapy, and group therapy.Many of these services help
  6. 6. Miles 6veterans to cope with their PTSD. Veterans who use these services have a chance of living anormal life.For patients with more serious PTSD, the Veterans Administration also offer severalother services. These are specialized treatments for cases that are not cured with basic treatment.Treatments of this type range from substance abuse and women’s treatment to 90 dayhospitalization.One can see that the Veterans Administration does not give up on veterans whosePTSD is not cured with basic treatment. It is good that the men and women in the VeteransAdministration care this much about our veterans.The army and veterans administration want tofix this problem, but so do other organizations. There are also several options other than the treatment offered by the VeteransAdministration and Army.One of these options is to take part in clinical trials offered byuniversities across the nation. An example of this is the University of Pittsburgh. The Universityof Pittsburgh has an extensive psychiatric program that deals with PTSD victims regularly.Manyof these programs ask for volunteers for trials. If basic treatment has failed veterans, they oughtto consider volunteering for research trials.Several research centers are researching a medicationthat would enhance the brain’s ability to change during psychotherapy.This would be incrediblyhelpful because it would allow the brain to change easier. Doctors would then be able to changethe veterans’ brain in a way that would help cure them of their PTSD.Another form of treatmentfor veterans is merely discussing their condition with other veterans. These are called grouptherapy sessions.Many veterans find these sessions helpful because they help to ease the pain oftheir traumatic memories. Veterans cannot forget these memories, but they can come to viewthem differently, which would help them live a better life. There are many organizations outsideof the veterans administration and army that dedicate much of their time to helping veterans, andthere are also civilian and charity organizations that can help.
  7. 7. Miles 7 Society as a whole in America needs to help integrate its veterans back into the normallife that they deserve.There are many facilities across America to help veterans suffering fromPTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other war related problems. An example of this is ShepherdsHeart Veterans Home, an Uptown ministry for homeless veterans that offers rooms, food,counseling and training as well as weekly church services.Places like these can help veteransadjust to normal life. Several of the veterans that stayed in this veteran’s home could not hold ajob, keep a house, or have a good relationship. After staying here, these veterans were able toattain most of these things. Jack Grate, a judge that has had to deal with a PTSD related crime,said that, “Society does not have time for him to get solved.”What Grates is saying is that societydid not stop to help the veterans suffering from PTSD. Society should take the time to help theveterans that are struggling to make it in civilian life. The general public can do things to helpveterans as well. One of the most helpful things that the public can do is advocate for them to getresources that they need. The United States’ veterans need all the help that they can get. Thepeople of America sacrificed many things in other wars, such rationing food and supplies. In thiswar, the citizens of the United States need to help soldiers get housing, treatment, work,education, and anything else that they may need to help them adjust to civilian life. The veterans returning from the modern day wars need the help of civilians. The generalpublic does not know how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects returning warriors. UnitedStates citizens need to understand what these men and women are going through. It is thecitizens’ responsibility to help veterans return to normal life. These men and women risked theirlives to protect their citizens; and, in return, have suffered psychologically. The citizens, wholive a protected and peaceful life, owe it to these young men and women to help them achievethe same lifestyle.