There was a time when post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) wasn’t well-understood and there were stigmas attached to those who suffered from it. Once known as battle fatigue and shell shock, PTSD has been a part of the warrior culture since man first starting fighting wars.
The Global War on Terror saw a rise in the understanding of PTSD by the American public and by American institutions. Generally speaking, the nation has come to understand that PTSD is a disorder that requires attention.
In 2010, Kent Conrad, a U.S. senator, advocated to get the federal government to officially organize a PTSD-day where awareness could be raised about the disorder in tribute to North Dakota National Guardsman, Staff Sgt. Joe Biel who killed himself in 2007 because he suffered from PTSD. Biel served two tours in Iraq and those that knew him said he struggled to leave the war behind him. June 27 was Biel’s birthday, so Biel’s birthday was selected to observe PTSD Awareness Day.
Four years later, the U.S. Senate designated the month of June as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder month and that became known as PTSD Month. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that currently 8 million people in the United States have PTSD.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people develop after living through an event that could have caused serious harm or death to them. In order to suffer from PTSD, a person doesn’t have to experience the event personally, they could have simply witnessed it (like the 9/11 attacks).
PTSD can impact a person’s ability to sleep and it can lead to irritability, anger, relationship issues, isolation and other problems. While some people can recover from PTSD in a short period of time, others can carry the disorder with them much longer. The good news is that PTSD can be treated.
Here are some things you can do to raise awareness of PTSD Month to help ensure that those suffering from the invisible wounds of war get the help they need.
1. You can start raising awareness of PTSD Month by taking the PTSD awareness pledge on the VA’s website.
2. During PTSD Month, use a social media profile pic that helps draw attention to the issue.
3. Share the Veterans Crisis Line phone number in your area during PTSD Month.
4. If you know a veteran who may have been exposed to trauma, check in on them during PTSD Month.
5. During PTSD Month, use PTSD Month hashtags created by veteran organizations and the VA and share information on social media.
6. Sharing information, signing pledges and engaging in a social media movement are great, but if you really want to make lasting contributions during PTSD Month, consider volunteering to help organize a PTSD Month awareness event.
7. Likewise, volunteering at an organization that provides ongoing PTSD support to veterans can not only be helpful to the veteran community during PTSD Month, but it can also be extremely rewarding to be involved in a PTSD support organization especially during PTSD Month.
8. During PTSD Month, if you’re a veteran and you feel like you need help, don’t put if off any longer and get the help you need.
9. If you are a veteran suffering from PTSD or know someone who is, make it a point during PTSD Month to learn about the disorder so you can intelligently talk about it without spreading misinformation.
10. Understand that millions of veterans in the United States suffer from some level of PTSD and it is important during PTSD Month to ensure lawmakers are made aware of the issues faced by those with invisible injuries.