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DOD Photograph

By its very nature, military training is designed to help soldiers overcome the societal taboos they learned as children.  It has to be that way.  We expect and need our combat soldiers to do things that are fundamentally contrary to polite, civilized behavior.

 

Well-trained soldiers are prepared to kill almost without hesitation.  They must make life-and-death decisions under stress that few civilians will ever know or understand.  They will see and do things that are understandably horrible and upsetting for any human being.  Their training and combat service, especially if experienced during the formative years of early adulthood, can have a life-altering impact on their lives.

 

Those who have seen combat are forever different from those who have not.  They have done things, seen things, and felt things that are incomprehensible to non-combatants.  Like demons, thoughts of these experiences can continue to intrude on a soldier's life long after he has left combat.  Dealing with those "demons" early on is key to a successful readjustment from combat service.

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DOD Photograph

Once the bravado of war fades, once the veteran leaves the esprit de corps of being part of a combat unit, and once the public's attention is elsewhere, those who served will inevitably rethink their experiences.  It is then that they and their families will begin to experience the long-term consequences of the psychological damage caused by war.

 

There is no pill that will cure PTSD.  There are no magic words that will remove the suffering. There is nothing that can be done to make us as we were before our combat experiences.  However, there are new pharmaceuticals that lessen the symptoms of PTSD.  Individual and peer group counseling can help combat veterans vent their anger and alleviate their emotional suffering. Dealing honestly with your PTSD will help you objectively look at your wartime experiences as just a part of your life — not your entire life.

 

Years ago, there was little help for those who suffered from PTSD.  That is not the case today.  Local mental health care professionals and others are increasingly familiar with the illness.  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) has become the unquestioned leader in identifying and treating combat-related PTSD.  The VA offers far more specialists and far more programs than it did 30 years ago. 

 

Without treatment, PTSD can destroy the quality of your life and the lives of those you love.  At first, treatment will probably be difficult.  At some point you will have to confront the “demons” that haunt your subconscious.  You may benefit from attending individual or group sessions with other veterans. You may benefit from taking medication to help you sleep and to overcome some of PTSD’s more serious symptoms.

  

If you suffer from PTSD, understanding that you do and that you are not alone in the way you feel is the first step to successful treatment.  The VA’s informal Vet Centers provide a good place to begin individual and group therapy.  In some cases, inpatient treatment through a specialized PTSD treatment program may be necessary.

 

Successful treatment can lessen the impact of your symptoms on you and those around you.  There simply is no good reason for a combat veteran who suffers from PTSD to allow it to go untreated. 

"He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything."

  Arabian Proverb

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