Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after someone has gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury or death. War is one of the traumatic events that can cause PTSD.
Along with so many other glass ceilings shattering here and there, women are (unfortunately) starting to break through the PTSD glass ceiling.
- Participation in a mission that exposed them to horrible and life-threatening experiences.
- Having been shot at.
- Having seen a friend/buddy shot.
- Having seen death.
- Other factors in a combat situation can add more stress to an already stressful situation. This may contribute to PTSD and other mental health problems. These factors include what the soldier does in the war, the politics around the war, where the war is fought, and the type of enemy faced.
Here are some statistics:
- The National Center for PTSD cites on it’s website that women are the fastest growing group of Veterans.
- The U.S.Department of Labor reports there are currently 2.2 million women veterans.
- According to the U.S.Department of Veterans Affairs, “among women Veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 20% have been diagnosed with PTSD.”
- Data from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans indicates the number of homeless women veterans doubled from 1,380 in FY 2006 to 3,328 in FY 2010. (I couldn’t find 2014 stats, but, homeless. That blows my mind.)
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…except for 20% of the women soldiers who went to war and did the hard stuff for the rest of us. What happens when they come back home to life and liberty, but happiness eludes them because they are trapped inside their memories, haunted by the despair of war with no way out?
As I walk freely in my neighborhood, city and country, pursuing the trails, destinations and hikes that make me happy, I can’t help but think about those returning vets who have trouble adjusting to life back at home. With PTSD rates rising among female troops we need to recognize that much of the time, PTSD goes undiagnosed, which means it’s under reported and doesn’t get the proper amount of support or attention.
Recently, I was made aware of an indie film looking for support on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. The film tells the story of a female helicopter pilot returning from Afghanistan and the problems she faces (within herself) while trying to reintegrate back into civilian life. This story is important because it exposes people like me, to the struggles a woman soldier might face when she returns home. The woman soldier finds herself imprisoned in her own mind, she can’t stop thinking about the trauma she witnessed… and lived through. PTSD is not mentioned anywhere in the film’s description, but, the “hard to watch” opening scene leads one to think this person is probably one of those undiagnosed sufferers. I’m embarrassed to admit I often think ‘coming home’ is the soldier’s reward, when in reality, it is sometimes their ongoing nightmare. You can check out the film here – Liberty Barrett.
So, how can we help? What can we do? Please check out some of these links…
- education – we can learn about PTSD and its effects on women
- donations – money to organizations that desperately need additional funding
- connect -reach out to someone in your family, neighborhood or community
- volunteering – check out local VA chapters to see how we can help
- support creative efforts – to get the stories out and bring about awareness
I am grateful, so grateful for all of the freedoms I have. I never want to take for granted the sacrifices any veterans were willing to make on behalf of my pursuit of happiness. Returning veterans deserve our devoted, indefatigable investment in them. It’s our turn, we need to fight and sacrifice for them, here at home, on behalf of their pursuit of happiness.