To say that this election cycle has been chaotic would be putting it lightly. Many Americans, on both sides of the aisle, are more than ready to see the commercials, debates, robocalls, and direct mailings come to an end. Sadly, the real issues affecting Americans, especially veterans, have rarely come to the forefront of either campaign’s platform.
Here at Peer Support Central, we’re dedicated to providing PTSD support and first responder training to those who perform some of the world’s most dangerous and vital jobs. That’s why we were so distressed when a certain presidential candidate implied that people who suffer from PTSD after seeing active combat were in some way less strong than those who never feel the need to see PTSD support.
He Said What!?
During a speech to a roomful of American war veterans just about a month ago, Donald Trump was asked about the suicide epidemic affecting the U.S. military. His response regarding PTSD left some veterans shocked:
“…[W]hen people come back from war and combat, they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over. And you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.” Trump said.
As evidenced by the uproar on social media, many people interpreted these comments to mean that people who need PTSD support are somehow weak, and that those who seek PTSD support are somehow admitting that they couldn’t hack it as a soldier.
To be fair, Trump followed up this statement with a call for increased health care for veterans, which is sorely needed if each and every veteran who wants PTSD support is ever going to have access to it.
Facts About PTSD Diagnoses
More than anything, these statements and the media frenzy that followed highlight the gross misunderstandings that exist regarding PTSD, its causes, and how to go about helping someone with PTSD. Here are the straight facts:
- Roughly 5% of all U.S. troops have been diagnosed with PTSD.
- Nearly 10% of all U.S. troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan could be diagnosed with PTSD.
- PTSD is stigmatized and often goes unreported or untreated.
- Telling veterans who seek PTSD support to “toughen up” only increases cases of depression, potentially increasing chances of suicide or self harm.
- Many individuals who have PTSD continue to serve, suffering in silence.
Helping Someone With PTSD Requires Training & Compassion
Here at Peer Support Central, we believe that critical incident stress management and peer support specialist training is absolutely vital to ending the cycle of misinformation and stigmatization that surround PTSD.
Allocating more dollars for veteran health care is important, but these dollars will be ineffective if we continue to limit their use for traditional counseling and PTSD support. An increasing number of studies have shown that PTSD support provided by one’s peers can deliver effective results. Helping someone with PTSD by making it easy to talk to their peers–people who have experienced similar traumas–is a very important first step toward helping them survive and thrive.
Want to be part of the solution? Contact us to learn more about PTSD training courses.