Today is set aside as National PTSD Awareness Day and that is a good thing. Like most serious problems we face, it would be better if it got dealt with every day, but every bit helps. There was an event today at Upper Senate Park just outside the Capitol and I attended with my girlfriend who has to deal with her severe PTSD all the time. There were a number of speakers including the Surgeon Generals from all three services and the Congressmen who sponsored the bill noting the day. But the one that made the most impact to me was Sergeant Major of the Army Chandler.
He told how before a deployment in 2005 he filled out the mental health questionnaire and like many others didn't tell the truth: He didn't want the problems he had to affect his ability to go to war with his unit, so he gave the answers the Army needed to hear. And his problems got worse over the years because he didn't get the help he needed. Finally in 2009 things got bad enough that he went in and began regular counseling. He told about interviewing for the job of Sergeant Major of the Army when Gen. Casey asked him if there was anything in his background that could embarrass the Army. He mentioned the mental health counseling and Gen. Casey assured him that rather than a disqualifier having been in counseling was a feature. He said that being able to speak about his own challenges and the fact that he had gotten help would empower others to do the same.
The bottom line is that almost everyone reading this knows someone affected by Post Traumatic Stress and we all need to push, pull, prod, beg and walk beside them to get them to the help they need.