The past few years have been filled with calls for the
Service Branches and the VA to do more in identifying and treating mental
health conditions to include, but not limited to PTSD. While I think we can all agree wholeheartedly that this was needed; and that these conditions cross all demographics (to include
rank), do any of you feel that this increased attention has created a barrier
to employment (or any other effect) for veterans and current Service Members?
The reason I ask is that some of us who work with veterans on
a daily basis have begun to hear ‘rumblings’ that some employers are not
willing to take the risk of hiring a combat veteran out of concern that they
may have PTSD.
I do not intend this as a discussion of PTSD in itself, or a
criticism of those who have a mental health condition, but rather of the effect
of the media attention on mental health of Service Members and Veterans and the
effects (positive and negative) that this increased attention can have on the
group as a whole.
How often has anyone seen the news media actually describe what PTSD is and who can suffer from it? I haven't. What we do see though from the news media is a lot of misinformation about PTSD. The recent mass shooting at Fort Hood - the news media was quick to bring to news audiences the Soldier had PTSD, but did he? He served in Iraq for four months, but never experienced combat. One news report said he was being treated for PTSD. It turned out he was also being treated for an anxiety disorder and depression.
The VA has done extensive studies on PTSD and have concluded PTSD alone does not make a person become violent. The study shows those with PTSD who did become violent were also being treated for another mental disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury. The truth is when something triggers PTSD it will make the person depressed and withdrawn. They are more likely to harm themselves rather than someone else.
Hollywood doesn't help matters at all. In movies and TV shows when depicting military personnel or Veteran's with PTSD, they portray them as often becoming violent.
The problem with PTSD is nobody is doing much to educate employers and the public what PTSD really is and how people come to suffer from it. A Rand study shows 8% of Americans suffer from PTSD. That's more than 25 million people. Now take into consideration that slightly more than 3 million have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The vast majority of people who suffer from PTSD never served in our military.