Oct 10, 2011

Obama VA, DoD Hit Stigma Surrounding PTSD and TBI

The symptoms are evident, and the consequences life-long for Veterans and their families

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has moved away in the last few years from targeting and criticizing servicemembers and veterans suffering from trauma to treating victims of trauma.

Now, the stigma of trauma is diminishing as the DVA and military culture move away from the mindset that trauma is a personal failing, lack of faith in God, a dodge or fraud to a health-centered approach.

Just last year Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli came under heavy criticism from veterans' advocates for his part in treating suicide and trauma in such a manner as to blame the soldier, treating this trauma "as a lack of moral character, and a lack of intestinal fortitude, when it is really a medical issue," as Steve Robinson wrote in August 2010 in reaction to the Army's “Health Promotion, Risk-Reduction and Suicide Prevention Report.”

By Alex Horton

Many active duty folks and Veterans have an impressive sense of history. They can recall specific battles in World War II, name obsolete military equipment from past eras and fondly recall their relative’s own military experience. But we also have a strong sense of the pervasive stereotypes that have haunted Vietnam Vets. Stigmas wrongfully attached to them still carry weight today.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli recently spoke on the importance of recognizing post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury as real injuries despite their invisible nature. The symptoms are evident, and the consequences life-long for Veterans and their families:
“The truth is, because we don’t see these injuries…they don’t receive the same level of attention as amputations, burns, shrapnel injuries,” Chiarelli said. “There is simply a bias – and I really mean that — there is a bias either conscious or subconscious toward invisible wounds and injuries…It exists everywhere including in the medical community.”
PTSD and TBI are marks of war, as real and permanent as those mentioned by Gen. Chiarelli. Read up on post-traumatic stress, as well as traumatic brain injury, to determine if you have symptoms associated with those ailments. I know some folks who have waited for years for a diagnosis when they could’ve been in a treatment program. Don’t wait to get help.

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