I have PTSD. I don't hide it. I have terrible insomnia, which requires I make my stomach a pharmacy at night and I have hyper-anxiety as well as other issues related to PTSD.<br><br>Here's what I want to get at: <br><br>Is PTSD a stigma in your organization? <br><br>Do Combat Units have more aggressive stigmas about this?<br><br>Are Soldiers scared to talk to counselors about their issues because they fear losing their security clearance?<br><br>How do you handle PTSD with your troops? With yourself?<br><br>Do you discuss your affliction with your Troops? If so, why?<br><br>The reason I want to discuss this is because it is a growing problem. I didn't get help at first because I was worried I would lose my security clearance. Fortunately, I had some leaders who recognized the problem and was supported along the way. Based upon my experience, I am not quiet about my diagnosis. I use it to show my Soldiers that even their OIC has PTSD and got help. I do this so I can encourage my Soldiers to get the help they need without fear of losing their clearances. I find that the culture of the Army has always been about driving through and persevering regardless of our personal issues & maladies. The culture is changing, which is good for the force and our Troops. <br>
Posted 8 y ago
<p>There is a stigma in the Army in relation to PTSD. In my present organization we have lots of Soldiers from every MOS here, from mechanics to the secret squirrels. Most of the individuals are here because they are "taking a knee" from the grind. Most discuss their conditions openly and offer insight when they can and if they see that it will help. We are encouraged to seek assistance from not only professional counselors/doctors but from peers as well.<br><br>Now I have been in past organizations where this was not the case. I have seen Soldiers berated, belittled and demeaned because of it. But there is a flip side to this as well. It doesnt help when the soldier in question doesnt help their cause by coming out and telling the CoC whats going on or seeking the appropriate help. I dispute the notion that soldiers dont know where to turn to, while it maybe out of date and out of touch with its target audience the Army's PTSD media campaign does put the where to, the how to and the when to out! <br></p><p>I believe there needs to be frank and honest conversations at levels above my paygrade to really get down to the Joe level and fix the system that is broken. I also believe we need to make Basic Training a hell of a lot more intense. It would aid I think in not only preparing soldiers for a high stress environment but weed out those that might not be able to endure the mental rigors of the above listed environment.<br></p>
<p>I have always tried to be honest with my troops and my leaders, I was diagnosed on 3 separate occasions before I actually received help from anyone within the military, 1st upon return from DS, 2nd from Bosnia, and 3rd from Kosovo, each time either the doctor or the clinic cancelled the appointments, at that time though it was more of a stigma, so I never pushed the issue, but upon our return from OIF I, there were many more SMs being diagnosed and the problem was more recognized and pushed to try and help those with the issues.</p><p><br></p><p>I actually reached out 1st this time after returning and telling the doctor about the previous deployment diagnosis's and what had happened, he was surprised I was as calm about it as I was, and I also told him why. I used to wake up in the middle of the night during my 1st marriage from nightmares and also had night sweats and other issues, when I was 1st diagnosed with sleep apnea, I was told that my PTSD could have been a contributing factor since I held it in for so many years and never received help or counseling for that and the other issues.</p><p><br></p><p>But by my 2nd OIF III rotation I was all over it with the meds and letting my Soldiers know it was not a derogatory thing and if they were having issues to let me or their colleagues know so we could get the necessary help early to assist with dealing with it so as to not allow it to fester as it did with me for so long before I was able to get the right help and assistance. </p><p><br></p><p>It is a growing problem, but I also think it is over diagnosed as well, while many SMs are true sufferers, I feel many use it as a crutch as well to either get out and get benefits or to cover some they have done wrong or illegal to prevent them from getting into trouble.</p><p><br></p><p>Perfect example, while I am not saying SPC Lopez didn't have issues, I don't think he had any PTSD, I truly feel and believe he was using that as a way to defer the problems he was having at work, he was utilizing the self-referral as his way to get around the issues off repeated denials for transfers, going on leave (he had asked 2x prior before the issue with his mother passing and had been denied over several months), so there was more there than is being let out. His deployment to Iraq was at the tail end of OND and he spent just over 4 months there and was not around any combat operations or any insurgent attacks, so there was no events that could have inflicted the normal buttons pushers of PTSD for the deployment. He had issues but it was not related to a deployment from over 2 years prior for only 4 months, so the self-referral for PTSD and self-diagnosis of TBI was all BS to cover for something else going on.</p><p><br></p><p>I hope that more true sufferers are able to get help and assistance they need and can be open and honest not only with themselves, but their loved ones and colleagues and Soldiers as well.</p>
I think it depends on the unit, even down to company and platoon level. In my experience PTSD was not taken seriously and it almost seemed like our unit or the Army was intentionally avoiding it. Our first post-deployment debriefing never amounted to anything and our second one was designed to override the first so that any prior experience was not taken into account. However, at the platoon and company level there was a much greater outpouring of support due to the fact that we had KIA's on our first deployment. So there was great camaraderie between soldiers in our platoon and company and we helped each other but beyond that there was little support for us to get help.
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