Service members who fight for our nation and return home struggling with the effects of an invisible wound should not have to be additionally burdened by a stigma which labels their battle-borne injury a disorder. No one wants to be told they have a disorder, least of all a proud young veteran. Their most instinctive and immediate reaction is to deny it.
Denial interferes with timely treatment which can lead to dangerous, needless, and too often fatal, consequences.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS INJURY – A WOUND NOT A WEAKNESS
Honor for ALL is dedicated to eliminating the stigma attached to post-traumatic stress, advancing its treatment, preserving the dignity of the injured, and above all, averting impulsive or dangerous behavior leading to suicide. Although we are a veterans organization, our concern is with all who suffer from the psychological and moral injuries now all grouped together under term Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a diagnostic term crafted in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association to commonly understand and treat veterans who had endured severe traumatic combat stress. Subsequent to the APA’s adaption of this terminology it has now been shown, through intensive research involving electro-magnetic imaging, that post-traumatic stress can actually cause physical changes within the brain. These physical changes more accurately reflect an injury than a disorder – a wound not a weakness. Post-traumatic Stress Injury.
The use of the word “disorder” conveys a negative image which can by its nature discourage some from seeking care and others from caring.
The use of the ”d-word” in relation to combat stress assails the sense of honor that should accompany any wound received by a service member in action against an enemy of the United States. Further, its use demeans the dignity of all affected individuals, to include, but not be limited to: first responders; victims of abuse and crime; survivors and witnesses of life-threatening accidents and natural disaster; and all the loved ones thereof.
By introducing the word “injury” in the designation, we can begin to effectively diminish the stigma associated with invisible wounds and their perception as mental illness.
Further, in our efforts here, we do not wish in any way to cancel the distinction between common post-traumatic stress and the more disabling form of that condition.
As defined in the DSM under PTSD Criteria, paragraph A, it is normal to have post-traumatic stress (PTS) after experiencing a traumatic event. When symptoms persist for over a month and satisfy criteria B, C, D, E, F and G of the DSM formulation, the definitive components now signify DSM assigned PTSD.
A traumatized, yet uninjured, brain stays in appropriate alarm mode as needed, returning to normal within a month. An injured brain has been physically altered. Beyond common stress, this condition is a persistent disability that needs rehabilitation.
Our state by state campaign for PTSI awareness, originally started with the help of the Adjutant Generals Association of the United States (AGAUS) and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), is now in its third year. In 2015 we were able to enlist the support of the US House of Representatives and 8 individual states either by legislative resolution and/or gubernatorial proclamation. In 2016, the House was joined by the US Senate and the number of states went up to 27. In three of those states, South Carolina, Virginia and New Jersey, resolutions were adopted making the assignment perennial. This year we hope to gather the support of the other 23 states to join with Congress in a unified effort to establish a truly national day of recognition and hasten the end of a long overdue indifference to a very old injustice.
PTSI RESOLUTION TEMPLATE
WHEREAS, all citizens of the United States possess the basic human right to the preservation of personal dignity;
WHEREAS, all citizens of the United States deserve the investment of every possible resource to ensure their lasting physical, mental, and emotional well-being;
WHEREAS, the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who proudly serve the United States risk their lives to protect our freedom;
WHEREAS, the diagnosis now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first defined by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 to commonly and more accurately understand and treat veterans who had endured severe traumatic combat stress;
WHEREAS, combat stress has historically been viewed as a mental illness caused by a pre-existing flaw of character and/or ability; and the word “disorder” carries a stigma that perpetuates this misconception;
WHEREAS, post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) can occur after experiencing a severely traumatic event to include, but not be exclusive to: sexual assault, child abuse, high-impact collisions and crashes, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and military combat;
WHEREAS, post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) is a very common injury to the brain that is treatable and repairable;
WHEREAS, referring to the complications from post-traumatic stress as a disorder perpetuates the stigma of and bias against mental illness, and this stigma can discourage the injured from seeking proper and timely medical treatment;
WHEREAS, making post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) less stigmatizing and more honorable can favorably influence those affected and encourage them to seek help without fear of retribution or shame;
WHEREAS proper and timely treatment can diminish suicide rates and
WHEREAS, all citizens suffering from post-traumatic stress injury deserve our compassion and consideration, those who have received these wounds in action against an enemy of the United States further deserve our tribute and acknowledgement:
NOW, THEREFORE, be it RESOLVED that the (Senate/House/Assembly):
designates June 27, as (state) Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day;
designates June as (state) Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Month;
respectfully urges our Departments of Public Health, Military and Veterans Affairs to continue working to educate victims of abuse, crime and natural disaster, service members, veterans and their families, as well as the general public, about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress injury and
respectfully requests the (Secretary/Clerk) of the (Senate/House/Assembly) transmit a copy of this resolution to the Governor.