PTSD and the Viet Nam War
My Junior English class is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. The book is a memoir based on his experiences in Viet Nam during the war. Some of the stories within the book are fictional but represent the affect the war had on the young men placed in life-threatening, no-win situations. It would take a very unusual person to return home unscathed by the Viet Nam War. Soldiers returned home injured, even though they weren’t physically wounded, and many developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that may occur after a person has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event such as war, murder, fire, or other situations when they thought their life or that of others were in serious danger.
PTSD Treatment for Veterans Today
The same thing is happening to our young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each returns home a different person because of what they have witnessed and asked to do while on active combat duty. The difference between the two wars is that for the Viet Nam Vets, there were very few programs in place to help the servicemen transition back into “normalcy.” There were not enough professional mental health professionals with enough knowledge to recognize and treat the illness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In some cases, PTSD does not rear its ugly head for months and even years later making it even more difficult to diagnose as a war related illness for our war Vets.
US Department of Veteran Affairs PTSD Programs
Because of the efforts of many tireless Veteran advocates, there are more programs available for combat Veterans than ever before. The US Department of Veteran Affairs offers the following information on their website:
Each medical center within VA provides treatment for Veterans with PTSD. Plus, the VA provides nearly 200 specialized PTSD treatment programs. A referral is usually needed to access the specialty programs. You can use this VA PTSD Program Locator to see if there is a specialized program near you. (NOTE: If you are in crisis diall 911 or 1-800-273-TALK/8255.)
Not all VA’s offer the same programs.Your doctor can help you decide which program is best for you. This fact sheet describes the specialized PTSD programs and also the other options within VA for getting PTSD treatment.
If you, or someone you know, has completed active military duty and may have PTSD symptoms, visit the VA site for more information on how to get help for them.