Saturday, May 16, 2009

Heal the Wounded

One problem with repeated deployments is the increased chance of PTSD or lesser emotional or psychological problems. These are combat wounds but there is still a stigma within the military to seeking help:

A military culture that values strength and a "can do" spirit is discouraging thousands of soldiers from seeking help to heal the emotional scars of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite top-level efforts to overcome the stigma, commanders and veterans say.

Up to one-fifth of the more than 1.7 million military members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan are believed to have symptoms of anxiety, depression and other emotional problems. Some studies show that about half of those who need help do not seek it.

We want to retain the values of strength and the "can do" spirit, but we also have to make sure that troops understand that wounds can take many forms, and that it is important to treat PTSD and lesser injuries that impair a troop's ability to function.

I don't think that it is right to give the Purple Heart--a medal for physical wounds--since it is too difficult to determine a wound. Perhaps one day the standards for detection will be more rigorous, but for now I think it opens up more problems than it solves. That step is not necessary to treat PTSD as a wound.

Nobody would come home with a bleeding wound without seeking help. We need to make sure that all wounds are treated, and those who are wounded and seeking help are respected as those who sacrificed their health for their country.