Having deployed twice to combat zones as a Battalion Surgeon, Saudi Arabia in 1992 and Bosnia in 2000, caring intensely for military families for 23 years as Pediatrician, Family Advocate, and Healthcare Administrator, I can definitely say most EVERYONE associated with the military has some level of traumatic stress (TS) just from being exposed to the culture.
Those who go to a combat zone, whether in actual combat or not, must have post-traumatic stress (PTS), or they aren’t reacting normally. The experience IS traumatic if you survive it!
So many remain in denial, avoid looking for it, in fear of being labeled with a lifetime ‘disease’ that causes many lose their career, protecting the cultural drive to meet mission requirements always as 1st priority, life and family coming 2nd and 3rd (call it what it is).
This is why military families also suffer, perhaps the most, as they have PTS as well, but it goes unrecognized and untreated. Ultimately, all military people have some level of the syndrome (PTSS) even if they are able to remain functional. Those who never address the emotional component, especially the spiritual, moral injury piece, I believe, develop the disorder (PTSD), as they become stuck, unable to fit back into a joyful functional life pattern.
We simply must recognize this oversight and stop thinking having a diagnosis of PTSD is a life ender, rather it’s a new beginning.
Recognize what we went through, what we survived. No matter what we call it, the plan is to recover and reset our lives without carrying the label of ‘wounded warfighter’ or “PTSD” the rest of our lives.
What we are, in fact, are “warrior survivors,” “patriots,” yes, “Veterans,” and proud of it. But best of all, we are “lovers of life and family” – that’s why we served… and endured. This is what we should call ourselves, and what the new International Humanitarian Clown Experience for Veterans is helping us realize. HUA!
Dr. George – Singing Clown