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46 States and both Houses of Congress drop the “D”

    A WOUND NOT A WEAKNESS         

The diagnostic term Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was crafted in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association to commonly describe and categorize the psychological aftermath of experiencing traumatic events. Since, as the result of intensive electromagnetic imaging research, it has been revealed that severe post-traumatic stress, combat induced or otherwise, causes physical changes within the brain which more accurately describe an injury than a disorder – a treatable wound calling for definitive and timely treatment.

Although we began as a veteran’s advocacy organization, Honor for ALL has grown to realize that the stigma spawned and advanced by the term “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder” presents a needless and terrible threat to the health and welfare of many others beyond the veteran ranks. To suggest that these fellow citizens already overwhelmed by the very common human reaction to an extraordinary event are “disordered ” only serves to add perilous dimension to their hardship, discouraging some of the afflicted from seeking care while keeping others, particularly those who do not know them, from truly caring.

In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association held an open hearing to debate the name change of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to, or include post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). Regrettably, the APA’s decision was to not change or add to the name for DSM 5.

Beyond the harmful affect it has on timely care, the dispassionate use of the word “disorder”:

  • assails the sense of honor due the brave men and women who have received these wounds in defense of enemy action against the United States;
  • fails to acknowledge the gallantry exhibited by first responders and healthcare professionals while putting themselves at risk on a regular basis; and
  • at the community level, inadvertently disparages the character of victims of crime and abuse, as well as survivors of life-threatening accidents and natural disaster.

Common to all, suicide rates among the afflicted remain more than double that of the general population. Plainly, there is room for advancement here.

In 2013 Honor for ALL began a grassroots campaign to rebrand the term as Post-traumatic Stress Injury on a cultural level by petitioning federal, state and local officials to declare June 27 as Post-traumatic Stress Injury Day Awareness Day (the date June 27 was first chosen by the United States Senate as National PTSD Awareness Day in 2010). Our objective was, and remains, to gather enough support among governing bodies, the press, and the electorate, to positively influence succeeding actions of the APA’s DSM Scientific Review Committee in favor of name change.

Our first state resolution for came from our home state of Michigan in 2014. We have now, as of the Spring of 2020, received participation from 46 states by way of bill, resolution and/or proclamation designating June 27 Post-traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day. The US House of Representatives signed on in 2017 and the Senate has designated June 27 as PTS Awareness Day beginning in 2016.

HFA Medical Advisor, Dr. Frank Ochberg, former Associate Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and member and chair of APA councils, committees and task forces in the late 1970s and early 1980s materially responsible for advancing the creation and modification of the original diagnosis known as PTSD agrees, “As far as I am concerned, the name PTSD, was never important.  The concept was important.  We knew before 1980 that research would help us adjust the diagnostic criteria through time.  We knew that later versions would reflect evolving scientific knowledge.  And now, evolving knowledge leads us to a modification in the name as well as modifications in criteria.  The basic concept remains. Some details have c   hanged.  The fact that profound trauma creates injuries to brain function, brain physiology and brain anatomy is well established.  The fact that calling this phenomenon an injury, not a disorder, confers honor rather than stigma is now established.”

Initially a veterans focused organization, Honor for ALL’s concern has grown to include all who suffer from the psychological and moral injuries now grouped together under the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Removing the “D” takes away from the stigma and that is good. Adding the “I” for injury introduces honor and that is better.

Identifying Post-traumatic Stress as an Injury by officially and publicly declaring a Day of Awareness cannot unwring the bell sounded by the APA in DSM III some forty years ago when they coined their original descriptor, but it can serve to redirect public sentiment. Officially and publicly declaring a Day for Post-traumatic Stress Injury Awareness says we are committed to excluding shame, adding honor, and in the end – saving lives.

For individual Bills, Resolutions and Proclamations in 2019 go to *Supporters*.