Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, Ellyn Jeager Releases Statement After Sarah Palin’s Comments Relating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Violence
January 28, 2016
Over the years research has shown us that traumatic events can have a serious impact on our mental health. These issues are known as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder that occurs when someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event.
Although someone who has experienced any type of traumatic event can suffer from PTSD, it is commonly connected to the thousands of veterans who experienced military combat. According to a 2008 report published by Rand Corporation, one in five Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans experience PTSD.
Both men and women are affected by this disorder and are often haunted by their memories of the event. Symptoms could include nightmares, anger, and strong reactions to their perceived environment. People who suffer from PTSD often experience flashbacks, when they suddenly relive the traumatic event as if it was happening at that moment, and they may be triggered by situations that remind them of their trauma. As a result, they might start withdrawing from activities which would include large crowds, could have strained personal relationships, and may have difficulty maintaining employment while trying to understand the complexities of PTSD.
The public’s perception of this disorder further complicates someone from reaching out for help. Even more distressful is when public figures, such as Sarah Palin, play politics with this issue. Palin’s comments about her son’s domestic violence charge falsely perpetuate the idea that veterans with mental health issues are violent. In fact, veterans suffering from PTSD are much more likely to harm themselves than to harm others. It is not only inappropriate, but potentially harmful for Palin to politicize a condition that has a serious impact on thousands of veterans. No one cares what political party you are when you sign your name to defend this country.
Treatment is available, but we must remove the stigma so veterans will reach out for help. We cannot let politics or resources block treatment. Right now a veteran suffering with PTSD has taken or is thinking about taking their life. This is not acceptable and cannot be the legacy of our armed forces men and women.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a Certified Peer Specialist available to help. You can call the VA Medical Center for more information on PTSD and treatment options. If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD or in danger of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the VA Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.