The prolonged stress to which soldiers are exposed in war actually causes damage to brain cells which will be permanent unless treated. If treated, the brain can repair itself. In many soldiers – fifteen to twenty percent – the horrors and stress of war result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder typified by flashbacks, depression, anger, rage, and difficulty getting along with others, maintaining a marriage, and holding a job.
If untreated – as it is in a majority of cases even today – PTSD normally ruins lives. Approximately thirty percent of homeless males today are untreated vets, mainly from the Vietnam era. Many inmates in our nation’s jails and prisons are vets whose PTSD has gone untreated. Yet, astonishingly, in 2008, The Rand Corporation estimated that of the approximately 300,000 vets who had returned from our current wars with PTSD, barely 60,000 were receiving treatment.
In the last few years special Veterans’ Courts designed to help rather than jail veterans who have committed trauma-attributable offenses have been set up around the country. They are similar in concept to courts like Athens’ Substance Abuse and Mental Illness Court run by Judge William Grim. The first Veterans Court in the Country was set up in 2008 by Judge Robert Russell in Buffalo NY. See an NBC News segment on this court by clicking one of the links below:
Also of interest may be this August 2012 article and video on Youngstown’s Veteran Treatment Court:
Veterans and their loved ones should not be afraid to reach out for help by contacting the National Veterans Foundation (click the image or link to the right for more information).
To listen to a number of great interviews on PTSD, including one with NVF founder Floyd “Shad” Meshad (June 2009), click the Conversations from Studio B image or link on the right. Then select the programs of interest from the list provided.
New Jersey veterans have access to a hotline and information at the associated NJ Vet-toVet website – see the third link in the list to the right.