Saturday, March 26, 2011

Combat Fatigue

The military has made great strides in identifying and treating the combat wound of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or, as some troops prefer to call it, the old name of "combat fatigue." That is truly a more accurate description, really:

Troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan would prefer that you call stress related problems PTS (Post Traumatic Stress), not PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Actually, many troops wish everyone would revert to the older term, Combat Fatigue. What's in a word? For the troops, PTS is just another injury, and not a disorder. It's something you deal with. It wasn't always that way.

Although most troops now accept that PTSD is not a sign of mental weakness, but a very real combat hazard, many still avoid special PTSD treatment programs. However, by making PTSD treatment (which is usually just monitoring, and the use of some anti-stress medication for a while), part of regular medical care, the military had made much of the stigma disappear.

The military has also done a lot to delay the onset of combat fatigue. Mini-vacations, a couple years at least between deployments, and lots of goodies in off-time while in combat all help to extend the useful life of a soldier or Marine in combat.

So the next time you read about air conditioning in the field or burger kings or Internet access in a remote base, remember that this isn't "pampering" the troops--it's keeping them fit to be sharp soldiers who can come home safe and sound in mind and body.