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Glorification of War in the Media
By Allison Gamble
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 8% of men and 20% of women at some point in their lives. Military veterans, however, have a dramatically increased percentage of PTSD: as many as 55% will experience symptoms at some point. 30% of these diagnosed will experience chronic symptoms, which may last their entire life if untreated.
Soldiers in the Army and Marine Corps are most likely to experience PTSD. From a forensic psychology perspective, those in the trenches are closest to the horrors of war, have the most exposure to dangerous and traumatic experiences. However, less than half ever seek treatment. Many refuse to acknowledge their problems due to fear of hurting their military careers.
Those with PTSD often experience a number of debilitating symptoms: depression, numbness, anxiety. Frequently, they remove themselves from situations that might trigger memories of trauma. People diagnosed with PTSD have higher rates of aggression, domestic violence, and occupational problems, and often self-medicate with drug and alcohol abuse: approximately 88% of men and 79% of women with PTSD have a co-occuring addictive disorder.
Divorce rates in the military rose between the years of 2000-2004 after the Iraqi invasion due to stressors of the physical distance of deployment. In 2008 the divorce rate for Army was around 3.7%. The highest divorce rate was among female Marines with close to 9% divorce rate within the year.
PTSD plays a factor in the high rate of veteran suicides; suicide is more than twice as likely for veterans than it is for the civilian population. Wounded soldiers have the highest suicide rates. The VA reports that 4-5 veterans commit suicide daily The VA has implemented a suicide prevention lifeline to help veterans cope with suicidal ideations. Since 2005, the VA has hired more than 3,900 new mental health professionals with assignments to each VA clinic in the U.S.
Treatment for PTSD is available and can decrease the effects of the disorder. Medication management and therapy have been shown to provide the best effects for alleviating symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to help the person help the person learn and utilize the coping skills needed to deal with traumatic memories. Each VA clinic nationwide has mental health professionals to provide therapeutic interventions and medication management services.
Military veterans have often experienced unforgettable, tragic events that change the way they view the world. Many of these develop the symptoms of PTSD, which may affect them the rest of their lives. Support and treatment are available for these soldiers to help them return successfully to their homes and families. Therapy for the person as well as the family can help them cope with the experiences, learn appropriate coping skills and decrease the symptoms of the disorder.
Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing.