Why we should care about the Military and Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD)

My father took his life after battling PTSD.
My father took his life after battling PTSD.
My father took his life after battling PTSD.

My father took his life after battling post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and not receiving the care he needed. He suffered from this mental health condition because he experienced or saw terrifying events during war. PTSD is a real thing that people across the world struggle with either personally or with a loved one as I did. Although there are professionals trying to fix this issue, problems are constantly diminishing any possible forms of help. There are families everywhere dealing with this, and what if they are living in a country that is not their passport country? How do they know that every culture, every person, every country can suffer from this disorder? Because research shows they can.

Genocide in Rwanda left the country suffering from PTSD. This included children, adults, families and even health care professionals. According to an article written in Global Grassroots, “in 2005 there was only one psychiatrist in all of Rwanda.” The article suggested that most of the programs were presented with Western philosophy, but it didn’t reflect the culture of the people and therefore didn’t benefit the majority of the population.

Because of additional research, the programs based in Rwanda are now focusing on “provid[ing] psychosocial and trauma recovery interventions, as well as family reunification services” (http://www.globalgrassroots.org/pdf/PTSD-Rwanda.pdf). But the article later states that Rwanda still faces a money issue. Not only can places like Rwanda not afford the programs they need, but these places also can’t afford to hire or train the people needed to help.

There are thousands of countries across the world that can’t afford to get the help they need just like Rwanda. Does this mean that we have to sit back and watch as humans lose a father or any other loved ones because they couldn’t find the help he needed? No.

“In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP), which has since been used in more than 50 countries worldwide” (http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001769). The program focuses on low- and middle-income countries that really need the assistance they are not getting. With psychological interventions, counseling, relaxation and psycho-education, the program helps people dealing with mental illnesses such as PTSD.

Mental health is often a low priority for governments and donors, and too often there is a lack of political will to prioritize this area”.  If it is a high priority for governments and donors, it’s usually because the country they are based in has the funds for research and publicity on the issue. However, there is not enough evidence supporting interventions for specific cultural idioms and existing supportive cultural practices to manage stress-related conditions, such as yoga for stress management, or cultural mourning practices for bereavement. WHO will focus on these areas and acquire the information they need to create a world that knows how to help those with PTSD.

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  1. this is such an amazing article. PTSD needs to be better addressed! thank you for writing this and sharing a little bit of your story.

  2. This is an amazing article! It is so informative and considering your emotional attachment to the story. This well-written article will definitely help bring attention to this unfortunate disorder.

  3. I’ve never had a family members or a friend in the military, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about everything our military is put through. This article is a huge eye opener to how serious PTSD is and how many people it effects. I believe that anyone brave enough to serve for our country deserves the absolute best medical care. I hope that someday anyone suffering through PTSD will be able to get the (free) help and care they deserve.

  4. Oh my gosh! This is a great new perspective that I never thought about. I’m talking about how trying cultural practices that would relate to those groups and therefore be more healing for them than if we introduced the only way we know how to solve a mass problem like PTSD in other countries. I like this a lot.

  5. Wow, great article! The personal touch really adds to the story. It’s really sad to hear when about substandard health care given to those ready to give those ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

  6. I really enjoyed this article! It had a very personal touch to it which made it relatable.  I agree that PTSD needs to be addressed as soon as possible.  Especially to our men and women of honor.  It really is the LEAST we can do.  

  7. As someone who has experienced PTSD first hand, I think that it’s really important to talk about. Some experiences you can’t just get over, and some people genuinely need help with getting through it. For a long time PTSD wasn’t recognized as a problem, I’m glad that it’s getting attention now.

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