PTSD

By London Records. (Billboard page 25 1 May 1965) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As a soldier, an army officer, and then a Foreign Service officer Ron Capps experienced five wars in ten years, and came home with severe PTSD. Today on Word of Mouth, he discusses founding the Veterans Writing Project, and the power of the written word in coping with the psychic wounds of war. Then, from Scottish bag pipes in the mid-18th century to Metallica in the mid-2000s, we’ll take a brief tour through the history of music as a weapon of war. Plus, a diehard Oasis fan is forced to admit that the band’s rivalry with Blur has unfairly colored his perception for the past 20 years.

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Todd Bookman / NHPR

A new report finds New Hampshire veterans face stigma and a complicated health system when seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The findings come from a Commission created by the state legislature to investigate barriers to care and treatment of PTSD and TBI for the state’s 115,000 veterans.

The Commission, which is composed of military and civilian leaders, surveyed 1,100 vets. Thirty percent responded they weren’t getting the help they needed because of stigma over their mental health needs.

Paul W Hayes / Flickr Creative Commons

After more than a decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, American troops are coming home.  For many, it’s a wonderful time, to return to family and a normal life. But for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, the transition is a rough road.   In New Hampshire, more a quarter who fought in these wars say they’ve struggled with PTSD, and a fifth with some kind of brain injury.

Virginia Guard Public Affairs Flickr Creative Commons

We spoke with Mac McClelland about the spread of the invisible disorder that somewhere between 100 and 300-thousand veterans brought back from war …trauma. “Secondary traumatic stress” does not have its own entry in the DSM, and is often called compassion fatigue, a more euphemistic title. Sufferers experience PTSD symptoms, but are often faced with even more hurtles than veterans when seeking help. The important difference people see between the victims of PTSD and secondary traumatic stress is that the latter’s trauma was not originally their own. Mac McClelland wrote an article for Mother Jones’ about the phenomenon of secondary traumatic stress and its affect on the families of returned soldiers. She’s also working on a book about PTSD.

Sheryl Rich-Kern / NHPR

As the last of the soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan return to their native New Hampshire, about one third will retire from the military for medical reasons.  That means they’re likely to face one of their toughest battles yet as they search for meaningful employment.

The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan villagers, has led the Army to review how troops are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have invested heavily in the treatment of PTSD to deal with a growing caseload.

But the stigma associated with the disorder continues to complicate efforts to treat it. It has also fueled serious misconceptions about its effects — such as the notion that PTSD causes acts of extreme violence.

Flikr Creative Commons / IRIN Photos

 

Every year New Hampshire takes in hundreds of refugees from all around the world.

They have fled wars, persecution, and even torture in their home countries, and some bear scars – both inside and out. After the trauma they have endured some refugees arrive with undiagnosed mental illness, but identifying and treating these patients is no easy task.