Reaction gap wide on PTSD

It’s nice to hear from readers about stories I’ve written. …..Sometimes the reaction is good, sometimes it isn’t. But always, it validates how much people in our region look to the Daily Journal for information.
The latest reactions come from both directions about my March 1 story, which describes how post-traumatic stress disorder has affected one Iraq veteran. It also notes the growing concerns about this mental condition caused by severe shocks to the system.
One side of the reaction: Thank you for the story. More people need to know about PTSD because so many soldiers are affected by it, short- or long-term. Their families and friends need to know about it and watch for it so they can help their loved one. That didn’t happen for Vietnam-era veterans.
The other side: Your story disgraced the entire military and puts a shadow over every soldier who has or will come back from Iraq. With what you’ve written about PTSD, the public is going to be afraid all returning soldiers are potential perverts.
The ex-soldier in my story was diagnosed with PTSD after his arrest on child pornography charges.
Because of his 24/7 fear of death in Iraq, he says he was pushed him to seek some kind of twisted solace in pornography. Now, he hopes he can get enough help to pull himself back to his old life.
The psychologist who diagnosed his PTSD says he is not a pedophile and never acted “in real life” upon any urges he might have experienced while looking at child pornography on the Internet.
I appreciate both sides of the reactions, and I’m especially gratified that this story has generated discussions at kitchen tables or coffee shops. As I’ve told the readers who didn’t like the story: Feel free to write a letter to the editor and express yourself. Maximum words, 350.
But I’ve also said, especially about their skepticism, that none of us knows how trauma and fear affect someone else.
For the tough, some dire situation may just roll like water off a duck’s back.
For others, it may lead to severe emotional distress.
PTSD is real. It has afflicted soldiers from the time one took up arms against another. Its effects can be short-term and people get over it. Its effects also can be long-term. In its most extreme form, people kill themselves.
I am no stranger to PTSD. From my teenage years, I have a close friend, who went to Vietnam and never recovered emotionally. His life with much promise turned out to be bearable, at times.
We Americans should prepare ourselves for the effects of this tragic disorder as we welcome home our soldiers from traumatic situations on the other side of the world. And we should not forget the victims of domestic terror, whether it’s New York City’s first responders or the victims of hellish storms like Katrina.
We must look around and insist that our communities, veterans services and others who can help are there.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

 

Patsy Brumfield