According to PR Newswire, a Harris poll conducted in June 2021 indicated that a majority of Americans believe most veterans have PTSD.
The survey of 2,000 respondents indicated a belief by most Americans that most veterans have PTSD (wrong; it’s a still-concerning but much lower 11-20%), while around a quarter of respondents believe that most people with PTSD are violent (not true) and that PTSD is untreatable (definitely untrue). Of course, 40% of the poll’s respondents don’t even know what the acronym PTSD stands for (it’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), so maybe we shouldn’t take the results too seriously.
Nonetheless, the poll represents a worrisome trend Not only is that belief untrue, but it is also damaging to veterans and to the nation. It does the veteran community no favors for everyone to believe that we have PTSD and that we are therefore violent, especially if they don’t even know what the term means. The facts are this: 1) very few veterans have PTSD, although a number of us do have it, and many others have other conditions with similar symptoms. 2) Most people with PTSD are not violent, and veterans can be violent (or not) with or without PTSD. 3) PTSD is VERY treatable.
It is not good for our nation to believe that most of us veterans are sick with an incurable disease that makes us both violent and mentally unstable. And it does us no good to believe that because we served in combat, we get a pass for bad behavior for the rest of our lives.
Charles Faint retired from the US Army after more than 27 years of service in the Infantry and Military Intelligence branches. He completed seven tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with various Special Operations units, earning the Bronze Star Medal four times. He later attended graduate school at Yale University and taught for seven years at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In retirement he serves as the Chair for the Study of Special Operations at the Modern War Institute at West Point. The opinions expressed in this article are Mr. Faint’s own, and not those of the United States Military Academy or the US Army.
This article originally appeared in The Havok Journal.
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