Of course, the “PTSD for profit” problem is not confined to the veteran community. The easily-offended, everyone-is-a-victim, “trigger-warning” culture of America has its share of sketchy PTSD claims as well. But within the veteran community, it has become increasingly acute. For a small, but growing segment of veterans, fueled by perverse incentives including VA payouts, sympathy, and attention, a PTSD claim is a badge of honor, whether earned or not. And for many outside of our community, PTSD is now not only accepted but expected. The attitude almost seems to be, “if you went to war and didn’t come back with PTSD, did you even deploy at all?” That’s not a healthy perception for the American people, or for vets themselves, to have of the veteran community. And things like those utterly ridiculous “combat veteran lives here, please be courteous with fireworks” signs are Exhibit A.
Before I wrap this article up, I want to make a couple of things clear. First of all, I wholeheartedly agree that PTSD is a real condition that genuinely affects many people, including several of my personal friends. People should continue to get help for their conditions, and if a diagnosis of PTSD is confirmed (by multiple doctors!), then they should follow the treatment regimen accordingly. But the problem of misdiagnosis and false PTSD claims has become so widespread that it is seeming more and more like “everyone” has it. And if everyone has it, then no one has it, and that’s really, really bad for those few who genuinely suffer from the disorder. That pisses me off, and it should piss you off as well.
So yeah, I’m skeptical when I hear people, especially veterans, trot out claims of PTSD to explain away their criminal actions, boorish behavior, or poor life decisions. Bogus, weak, or misdiagnosed PTSD cases are overloading the system at a time that it should have been laser-focused on those with real problems.
And that should concern all of us.
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal on 19 July 2018.
Scott Faith is a veteran of a half-dozen combat deployments and has served in several different Special Operations units over the course of his Army career. Scott’s writing focuses largely on veterans’ issues, but he is also a big proponent of Constitutional rights and has a deep interest in politics. He often allows other veterans who request anonymity to publish their work under his byline. Scott welcomes story ideas and feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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