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Military PTSD Study Way Off Target

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I read “Military experiment seeks to predict PTSD” in Stars and Stripes with a heavy heart. The study seeks to “predict who is most at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Understanding underlying triggers might help reduce the burden of those who return psychologically wounded — if they can get early help.”

Testing someone before and after battle isn’t going to produce more information than is already at our disposal: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

We know how to lessen our chances of getting cancer, getting into car accidents and becoming violent by not smoking, driving slower, and learning ways to manage our anger. PTSD is no different. Try studying servicemembers to see who has the predisposition to lose a leg or suffer third degree burns and see how far that gets you.

Bringing PTSD out from under the umbrella of shame is to be lauded for sure, but why is it being singled out as the thing to treat before it happens? This is tantamount to trying to find ways to make domestic violence and child molestation “safer.”

Just because there are those who come away from battle relatively unharmed doesn’t mean there’s some magic formula out there just waiting to be discovered that would allow everyone to come home with a happy face. What are we hoping for – disposition and constitution transplants from the unscathed to the pre-deployed?

War is already the least logical approach to anything, much like tossing someone into a food processor when they need an appendectomy. If you know someone is scared of heights, you don’t have to throw them off the side of a building and test their reaction before they hit the trampoline to know it will traumatize them.

Stop “studying” our wounded and treat them fully. Stop purposefully putting people into situations we already know are fraught with peril beyond their control, and dump the rest of the money, time and energy into another thing we already know: diplomacy (and when needed, shackles and snipers) works.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • OpPTSD_Jason

    I am so thrilled to find a person capable of independent thinking and the integrity to speak up. I can’t believe the weak minded people that accept what ever is given to them as a reason for action. This experiment is a waste of resources and just another trigger for the stigma that already exists in the PTSD community.

    My hat is off to you!

  • Mark

    Nice article.

    I have a bid in with the DoD for a study of our soldiers to determine whether there is a predisposition to getting killed in battle. Keep your fingers crossed for me; I fear that I underbid.

    The preventive for war induced PTSD is obvious.

  • Matt

    Unfortunately, was is a neccesity at times. It has been a part of the human condition for all of time, and there is no indication that it will fade from use anytime soon. As such, instead of bitching about how the problem is war, you should probably support initiatives that seek to lessen the tragic repercusions of what warfare does to the human mind. Your argument is akin to arguing that since the cause of bullet wounds is known, we shouldn’t invest in pretective body armor for the military. It has been said that given enough time, there is not a single person who would not fold to PTSD or other war related psycological trauma. I have done a significant amount of research on the subject and that seems to be the truth. War is an awful thing. Obviously if there was no war we would not have psychological trauma from it. Unfortunately, war is sometimes neccesary, and as such we aught to do everthing we can to help prevent the greatest number of PTSD cases possible.