What is your trauma? It can be a war, violence or an accident that happened in your past. There are lots of people who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) for a long period of time. PTSD can happen to any gender and at any age. Some examples of PTSD victims are survivors of child abuse, sexual assault, and a car accident. However, one of the common PTSD victims are the veterans who worked their service in a war. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair, about eight out of every one hundred Veterans have PTSD. The United States government has been providing special assistance to people who have PTSD such as a privacy right at their workplace including accommodations such as private place and excuses for their comfort. However, the government should help veterans directly and check their status regularly. The United States Congress should implement a legal law including creating a government organization that is specially trained to monitor the progression of the PTSD veterans in regular intervals.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of many mental health problems that occur by experiencing stressful or threatening trauma. The cause of PTSD relatively depends on how they get this trauma, however, it usually starts by a major accident in their life. For instance, if a kid was abused from their parents at home, a female’s got raped by a male, a person survived in a flight crash and became the only survivor, and a soldier came back from a big war, all of these will most likely to be considered to have PTSD. These tragic events can cause huge problems throughout their whole life. The symptoms observed in different forms: sleep disorder, upsetting memories, poor emotion regulation ability, upsetting memories, etc. These symptoms sometimes do not show immediately after the event happened; sometimes those take a few days or a few weeks to appear. These reactions of the victims can be different depends on their ages. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the most common reactions for children under the age of five is the fear of being separated from the parent, crying, whimpering, screaming, immobility and/or aimless motion, trembling, frightened facial expressions and excessive clinging. For the children between six and eleven years old, they may show reactions of extreme withdrawal, disruptive behavior, and/or inability to pay attention. Unlike 5 years old and younger children, six to eleven years old children usually show regressive behaviors, nightmares, sleep problems, irrational fears, irritability, refusal to attend school, outbursts of anger and fighting caused by their trauma. Adolescents, ages of twelve to seventeen, tend to show similar reactions as PTSD adult victims. The common reactions that can be seen from adolescent PTSD victims are flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbing, avoidance of any reminders of the traumatic event, depression, substance abuse, problems with peers, and anti-social behavior. The age range of adolescent is the general age that the victims would feel guilt over their failure to prevent loss of life. This may lead to a depression or revenge fantasies that interfere with recovery from the trauma. The impact of a traumatic event in one’s young age could be one of the greatest factors to take control of one’s life (“Helping children and adolescents cope”).
The awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) has grown in recent years. Mostly, it is because the number of PTSD victims has increased. Especially for the case of Veterans, the numbers of PTSD victims who were in the army increased rapidly during WWI and WWII. There are various effective treatments that are provided by the U.S. Department of the Veterans Affair. Those treatments can be divided into two types: psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medication. A lot of psychologist and scholars recommend psychotherapy more than medication because it is more efficient to treat PTSD.
Experiencing PTSD is common to anyone in many cases, especially in the military. According to the statistic data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair, about 11-20% of Veterans who served their service during Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF), 12% of Veterans who attended Gulf War, and 15% of Veterans who participated in Vietnam War had PTSD in their lifetime. These can lead to a result that approximately a minimum of one out of every ten veterans who served in a war would have PTSD after their service period. Not only a war but also Military Sexual Trauma (MST) can be one of the causes of PTSD. MST is any sexual harassment or assault that happened to any gender in the military which can cause trauma to the specific person. According to the data published by the Veterans Affair health care, about 23% of female veterans have experienced sexual assault when they were in the military. A lot of people easily think only women would experience MST, however, this does not regard gender. Thirty-eight percent of male veterans have experienced sexual harassment while they were in the military. As you can see, veterans in the military are very likely exposed to the circumstances of PTSD.
PTSD symptoms can be observed in various actions. Before the symptoms, it is very important to know their own triggers. Triggers can normally be divided into two types, internal and external triggers. The examples of internal triggers are anger, anxiety, sadness, memories, feeling lonely, feeling abandoned, frustration, feeling out of control, feeling vulnerable, racing heartbeat, pain, muscle tension. On the other hand, the example of external triggers are an argument, seeing a news article/watching a movie or television show that reminds them of their traumatic event, seeing a car accident, certain smells, the end of a relationship, an anniversary, holidays, a specific place, seeing someone who reminds them of the people connected to the traumatic event. Knowing their triggers is efficient in order to overcome their trauma and get treatment. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts did an experiment to observe how sleep quality and emotion regulation interact to predict anxiety for PTSD veterans. The researcher stated that Veterans with PTSD often have poor-quality sleep and poor emotion regulation ability. (New Anxiety Disorders Findings.) Both lack of sleep and lack of emotion regulation are common symptoms of PTSD. The victims usually have different types of physical and mental problems in their daily life such as the adaptation problem in a new job place. Their symptoms are commonly last constantly from a few weeks to years. It can be even longer through their lifetime if they do not get treatment at the right time. Hence, it is very important to get the proper treatment before it settles as their habit.
Although the U.S. government provides some treatment and care for the benefits of Veterans with PTSD, a lot of them does not fully get these help. Part of the reason is that receiving treatment is not mandatory by law. Since it is an option, they do not take it as seriously as it is and that leads to skipping this step. One of the other reasons can be their mental fear. Their trauma can be one of their big weaknesses depends on their cases. People tend to hide their weaknesses from others instead of reaching out for help. Because their trauma is so stressful and horrible, they do not want to bring it out to the public, thus they most likely hold it until it becomes worse and unmanageable by themselves.
In order to avoid this situation, the United States Congress should implement a legal law to monitor the PTSD veterans. One of the effective solutions to execute it is creating a government organization that is specially trained to check the mental health status of the PTSD victims at regular intervals. The similar case of this can be the Child Protective Service (CPS). CPS is a government agency that works for children’s welfare in the United States, especially that of children who have been in a case of child abuse and neglect. The principal role that CPS does is protecting children from their parents and providing plentiful resources to solve the problem. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Service (DFPS), they provide following resources to the family that are applicable: daycare, parenting skills, housekeeping skills, nutrition/health information, learning how to budget my money, referrals for education, counseling, and alcohol/substance abuse treatment, helping to deal with domestic violence, helping with learning how to deal with problems between them and their child, therapy, anger management, referrals for public assistance, etc. Additionally, CPS visits their house randomly in regular intervals without any prior notice to make sure they are following its plan. Checking them without any pre-notice helps to update their progress in their house accurately.
Random visit also can be effectively applied for the welfare of PTSD veterans. PTSD cannot be treated at once and victims have to follow regular steps of treatment and be monitored constantly. However, it is not guaranteed that the PTSD victims who have received treatment for the first time would reach out again for the next step. Although they finished the steps of treatment, symptoms can come back anytime in specific circumstances. In order to improve the way of monitoring the PTSD veterans victims, a new government organization which is established just for PTSD veterans can randomly visit them who has a record that they have received treatment. The organization should stay involved in helping PTSD veterans until the organization believes they no longer need the organization’s help to live and function in their normal daily life and adapt in a new place with no problem. Executing this law would not only prevent the situation of PTSD veterans’ mental health gets worse beforehand but also improve the quality of veterans welfare after their service.
In Pacem In Terris which is written by Pope John XXII, the Catholic Church claims that the public authority of the world community must likewise have as its special aim the recognition, respect, safeguarding, and promotion of the rights of the human person. (John) In this view, they focus on the common good for the community and individual human rights. Additionally, the encyclical stated, “This can be done by direct action if need be, or by the creation throughout the world of the sort of conditions in which rulers of individual States can more easily carry out their specific functions”(John XXII). This can be perfectly applied to the case of PTSD veterans victims and veterans welfare. Creating an organization that can monitor and counsel PTSD veterans can be considered as ‘the creation throughout the world of the sort of conditions’. Individual veterans whether they have PTSD or not have rights to get their beneficial welfare.
There are uncountable veterans who are suffering from big and small trauma and have been neglected by society. If the United States Congress implements a new legal law that is about creating a government organization monitor the progression as a treatment and recovery purpose of the PTSD veterans in regular intervals, they will be able to ease their suffering. Better welfare and supports for the honorable veterans who served their service for the nation are important and necessary.