The Stigma Of PTSD


One of the realities of combat experience is that veterans can suffer from a range of stress reactions—including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fortunately, there is a system in place to help these veterans. Unfortunately, some veterans aren’t seeking the help that’s available to them. This may be due to a perception of stigma that’s attached to it. There are many misconceptions and myths about PTSD. We’re going to address some of the key ones here.


  • Some veterans move into civilian jobs that require a security background check and it’s a common perception that a diagnosis of PTSD will negatively impact them. While not all background checks are the same, generally speaking, a diagnosis of PTSD does not automatically threaten a veteran’s security clearance. Even the Department of Defense’s standards allow for service members with a PTSD diagnosis—who are in treatment for it—to maintain their clearance. In fact, security clearance refusal is more likely to happen because of the behaviors associated with UNTREATED PTSD—including not meeting financial obligations or self-medicating with alcohol or illicit drugs.


  • Other veterans fear they’ll never recover from PTSD. The truth is that with appropriate therapies and, in some cases, medications, the manifestations of PTSD can be greatly reduced or even eliminated. The tools provided through therapy can help veterans develop effective coping mechanisms that they would not otherwise have.


  • Perhaps the most pervasive misconception about PTSD that prevents veterans from seeking help is that it’s a sign of some sort of character flaw. All service members—especially those who have experienced combat—have it ingrained in them to just “suck it up.” While that may be appropriate on the battlefield, it’s not the best response in dealing with nightmares that follow you home. Stress reactions are not a sign of weakness; they’re a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Knowing when to ask for help is actually a sign of strength and wisdom.


PTSD is treatable and reaching out early typically leads to the best outcomes. The bottom line is that if you’re a veteran in crisis who’s suffering from a delayed stress reaction resulting from your military experience, then you should seek the help you need. Platitudes common during military service such as “drive on” should be applied to how you approach your treatment—not to dealing with the problem on your own.


If you have filed a claim for PTSD (or other mental/emotional/behavioral impairments) and wish to challenge the VA’s assessment of the cause or percentage of your current disability, we at the Law Offices of Maurice L. Abarr are here to help you. It’s what we do. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

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