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PTSD – More Insults to Injury

January 6, 2009

Troops won’t get Purple Heart for stress disorder

  • Medal will not be given solely for diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Eleven percent of Iraq veterans, 20 percent of Afghanistan veterans may have PTSD
  • PTSD “not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy,” awards panel decided
  • Decision could be revised in the future, Pentagon says

“The Purple Heart recognizes those individuals wounded to a degree that requires treatment by a medical officer, in action with the enemy or as the result of enemy action where the intended effect of a specific enemy action is to kill or injure the service member,” according to a statement released by the Pentagon.artpurpleheartgi

“PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event; it is not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an ‘outside force or agent’ but is a secondary effect caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event,” the statement continued.

The distinction made by the US military, between physical damage and mental damage, is remarkable.  One wound you can see and one wound you cannot.  One leaves visible scars to prove the consequences of war. The other leaves invisible scars that twist your ability to cope with life.  Demeaning mental damage is the US military’s way of sweeping their failure to mentally prepare soldiers for the experiences they will encounter, beyond enemy engagement.  US soldiers have a social conscousness ingrained by the American lifestyle they came from.  They are not prepared for the horrors they encounter, which are very alien to their life experiences.  The US military does not encourage soldiers to vent their emotional frustrations, that would weaken their image and may infect fellow soldiers.  With no trustworthy outlet for emotional discrepancies, many soldiers feel the necessity to internalize their emotional pain.  Now planted, the seed of PTSD will grow and emerge, at an uncharted future moment, as a social disorder.

How dare the US military be so arrogant and backward as to decide that PTSD is just a pre-existing anxiety disorder, not deserving of honorable recognition.  For my neighbor, co-worker and long time friend whose PTSD finally caused him to take his life last year, I condemn the Military Brass for their arrogant and barbaric decision. BTW, my friend had several medals for honor and bravery, including a Purple Heart from the marines, for his visual wounds of course.

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