In recent years with the increase publicity about post-traumatic stress disorder most people seem to have the common misconception that post-traumatic stress disorder have no effective treatments and that the only way to deal with it is to grow a tolerance for it. This is completely false, doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for post-traumatic stress disorder, are working on getting the word out that based on recent finding post-traumatic stress disorder is very treatable for most soldiers.PTSD is more prevalent among service members today due to multiple deployments and 17 percent to 20 percent of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will be suffering from PTSD. But recent studies have shown that 80 percent of those affect by PTSD can be treated to where they will no longer show symptoms in about five years.
Based on written documents dating back to ancient times we can see that symptoms of PTSD have been around for centuries but it has been labeled many different names. It was during the Civil War that doctors coined the term, “soldier’s heart.” The idea was that a soldier’s heart rate, blood pressure and pulse rate were altered by war, and that led to personality changes. Over the years, the disorder has had several names: shell shock, combat fatigue, combat exhaustion. But in the past few decades it has evolved to be understood as having legitimate psychological and physiological roots.
The increase in PTSD cases is due to the large number of re-deployments and the heavy reliance of our military reservists and guardsmen to serve in combat. Because our primary domestic forces aren’t as emerged in the military life style as active duty soldiers are they become unprepared for the mental demands that combat induces on the mind and body. It has not yet been discovered how to pinpoint who might develop PTSD. Most people who serve in a war zone, even those serving multiple deployments, don’t get PTSD, others return home struggling with PTSD after a single tour. A lot of it relies on your personal ability to adapt to high stress situations.
Drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been found to be helpful with PTSD along with cognitive processing therapy to help patients deal with the triggers of their PTSD. Since the start of the wars the recent spike in PTSD cases have caused a boom in clinics and specialist that deal specifically with mental based disorders in soldiers. Also The Department of Defense and the VA are working closely to make sure veterans have readable access to treatment and that further research and development is done to improve the treatment and prevention of PTSD.
With the U.S. military gearing up to reduce its forces by 100,000 to 200,000 in the next five years I thought I would again focus on the challenges of veterans finding jobs outside the military but also the challenges of employers wanting to hire veterans. For an employer looking to hire someone out of the military it can be very difficult for them to understand what skill sets they have and where they would be best placed in a company. If you have never been in the military it’s very difficult to understand the culture and work environment that these veterans come from. Even their resumes might look a little cryptic with all their jobs being listed as MOS’s which make paring them with a proper civilian job a bit challenging
But with all these barriers that block veterans and employers from seeing eye to eye employers still know that their is value to be gained from having veterans work in your company. Veteran have the ability to be model employees. Because of their training and culture veterans are drug-free, healthy and physically fit. They also demonstrate high work ethic and discipline. Through their time in service these veterans are mentally tough and resilient and have a proven capacity to learn and adapt to new things.They also know how to be led and how to lead. Whit all these skill sets and personality traits it is now the employers taking that first step to better educate themselves about how to create a welcoming front for veterans to find their way to these companies.
Employers are now starting to learn how to effective place veterans that will best utilize their skills and personal trait to further the company. By nature of the military culture and environment most veterans are perfect for handling management roles in companies and are able to handle stress better at higher level positions then employees that have not served. With this new transition into seeking veterans and being more proactive companies are also utilizing their current employed veterans to develop a more veteran friendly corporate environment
With our military coming up on almost a full decade of constant war, some interesting studies are starting to emerge looking at mental health of our veterans from the first years of the wars to present day. Since 2001 up to one third of our veteran have shown signs of combat induced mental health issues, most of these being post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Some unexpected results were found about veterans who have had follow up mental health exams years after of being out of the service. Studies have found that out of nearly 300,000 veterans that were studied, most mental health issues did not start occurring until a year after they’ve been out of combat. Also veterans who have been diagnosed with mental health issue experienced worsening symptoms the longer they’ve been out of the combat zone.
The Times reports: “The researchers found that 37 percent of those people received mental health diagnoses. Of those, the diagnosis for 22 percent was post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, for 17 percent it was depression and for 7 percent it was alcohol abuse. One-third of the people with mental health diagnoses had three or more problems, the study found. The increase in diagnoses accelerated after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the researchers found. Among the group of veterans who enrolled in veterans health services during the first three months of 2004, 14.6 percent received mental health diagnoses after one year. But after four years, the number had nearly doubled, to 27.5 percent. The study’s principal author, Dr. Karen H. Seal, attributed the rising number of diagnoses to several factors: repeat deployments; the perilous and confusing nature of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there are no defined front lines; growing public awareness of PTSD; unsteady public support for the wars; and reduced troop morale” (Dao, 7/16).
The really alarming fact about these findings is that even when these wars finally come to an end and all our forces pull out of the Middle East we will still have to deal with mental casualties of war for years to come. Our military has never seen this many recurring deployments and didn’t understand the implications that would arise from it. With studies gathering more and more data about the long term effects of mental health issues in our veterans this nation with come to find out that this war was more costly then we ever could have imagined.
A major issue facing our veterans have been the recent employment rates of the past few years. Like I’ve stated in my other posts national unemployment rates are significantly higher for veterans than it is for non veterans. It has been noted that many of our current veterans enlisted in the military right out of high school post 9/11. Because of this trend veterans of this war are exiting the service with no prior experience in the civilian workforce and with very little to none continued education after high school. Being the way our economy is currently declining this makes it very difficult for a veteran to find work when all they have is military experience and a high school diploma.
Because of the unsettling rise in veteran unemployment the government have put pressure on the colleges and institutions in this country to improve their veteran services and programs to create a more welcoming and understanding environment for current and incoming student veterans. The first major step to make this happen was with the activation of the GI Bill which gave active duty veterans the proper funds to go to college and further their education. Colleges would also get some benefits to recruiting veterans because some of that government money would help fund college projects and make its way back to strengthening the veteran services on campus. It has also been found that student veterans who go to college with the help of government aid have a high graduation rate then those of their peers.
Over 2 million Americans have served over in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these veterans have ambitions of getting a degree. If we put a fraction of these hard working men and women back into our economy with skills and a degree from a university it can only help improve our economy and get our country back on the right track. Also veterans that further their education minimize the risk of becoming homeless and having to live off of financial aid for the rest of their lives.
If you’ve been following me on Twitter lately you probably have noticed that a lot of my tweets have been about this issue of having a reverse boot camp. This program is meant to help soldiers better transition into living back in a civilian atmosphere. In the past the military had offered only a three day reintegration course that was mandatory and hadn’t really been improved upon for nearly 20 years. President Barack Obama seeing the need for improvement has announced a new five to seven day mandatory reintegration program for all personal who leave the military except for a few senior servicemembers and some troops with immediate work opportunities.
The new program criteria will cover tips on basic budgeting, resume preparation, dealing with family and friend adjustment issues, and translating military skills into a civilian environment. The program will also offer additional lesson on going to college, applying for civilian job, or starting a business from the ground up. The program isn’t expected to be fully up and running until late 2013 but 7 major military bases have already began the transition to the new program. 300,000 troops are projected to go through this program annually once it is fully operational.
In the past few years young veterans have had a higher average of unemployment than the rest of the nation. But with these new exit reintegration programs about to come online and the increased tax credit incentives for corporations to hire our nations veterans, hopefully this will reverse the trend of unemployed veteran and in turn begin to strengthen our nations economy.
On average over 250,000 service members leave the military each year, and a good majority of those don’t know exactly what they want to do back in the civilian world. Some will go to college to further their education with the financial resource that the military provides them but others want to go into the work force right away. This is where we see issues with service members transitioning back into the civilian world. Military customs and courtesies usually fit into the business environment well and come off as being very professional but other things like military acronyms can be confusing to employers and might cost you a job if the question your ability to communicate clearly. Another issue services member face in their job hunt is the stigma of being “damaged goods” because of their struggle with PTSD. Its sad to think that our service members are viewed that way but I’ve heard that term more then once when talking with friends who have had issues finding a job.
Private Contractors in Afghanistan mattmoyer.photoshelter.com
With all these entry barriers facing our service member some of them will decide to go into the private sector of the military where day to day events are familiar to their time in service. Many think mercenaries when they hear military private sector but its way more than that. Private security forces make up a small chunk of what the private sector can offer. Some of the most sought after services from the private sector are logistics, construction, and medical. All of these job positions require some type of military or federal background in order to qualify which is perfect for veteran who don’t mind working in a combat zone. The military private sector is a great way to slowly transition from the military while still getting a sense of serving your country.
In essence this blog was created to discusses the current issues facing our service members who are exiting the military and about to enter the civilian workforce. From the obvious issues like the current economy I also want to look at some factors that my not be so obvious to why service members would have a hard time entering into a new career. In today’s post I’m going to look at post deployment stress and how that can effect you from getting a job and how it can negatively effect your physical and mental health.
When returning home from deployment everyone on some level is going to experience post deployment stress, it’s just the nature of the lifestyle. But what separates a healthy soldier from one who becomes a mental casualty is how they manage that stress within the first few weeks of being home. Most friend of mine that come home from deployment are usually rush into attending huge gathering either something low key like a BBQ or something a little more chaotic like bar hopping with friends. Whatever the event is there are usually people there who want to know about your experience and having to relive some of those events can be emotional and stressful.
My advise to you would be to set boundaries in your mind about what is okay to share and what you would rather keep to yourself. It’s okay to not want to answer some questions, If they really are your friends and care about you they’ll understand. Also be open to other peoples views and opinions about the current wars. Listen to what they have to saw and then calmly reply about what you saw. To be honest the media has done a horrible job covering the war so give your peers some slack for misguided views.
If you do find yourself under a lot of stress there are many health ways to release the stress build up. One of my favorite ways to unwind is to do my usual workout routine and then to top it off I do some bikram yoga. I know a lot of guys may be resistant to yoga but let me tell you that it can be physically demanding if you put in the effort and also its a great way to just be with your thought for an hour and almost put yourself in a meditative state. If working out or sports doesn’t seem appealing to you then take up a hobby or something that you enjoy doing in your spare time. If all else fails and your still feeling stressed reach out for help. They are plenty of DoD resources out there for you to tap into and if you feel weird talking to a stranger reach out to any of your bothers or sister in arms. They know what you will be going through and are just as good as any resource to get help from.