PTSD in the Military
Prevention of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Modern Day Military
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, will be diagnosed in 7-8 out of every 100 individuals in the US Population (USDOVA, 2016). It is a growing concern not only with society today, but especially with our military. According to the DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD (2014), symptoms from the following four clusters must be satisfied after exposure to a traumatizing event for diagnosis: avoidance, intrusion, negative alterations, and alterations in arousal/reactivity.
Research shows that PTSD has been on the rise for years. Statistics for diagnosis begin with the Vietnam War, with a prevalence of approximately 15%, and jumps to as high as 11-20% with the most recent Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom (USDOVA, 2016). Research supports such claims and has obviously identified the problem of PTSD itself, but further research needs to be done on the prevention of PTSD. As a result, one must closely examine not only the causes of PTSD itself, but also the training that begins the process and introduction to the traumatic environment itself.
Research suggests that hardiness is a key factor for soldiers today and specifically to this study, as it is the personality trait that enables a person to face challenges and difficult tasks. There is a negative (inverse) relationship with PTSD, according to research done by Escolas, Pitts, Safer and Bartone (2013). Research demonstrates that high levels can protect from physical and behavioral abnormalities (Pitts, Safer, Russell, & Castro-Chapman, 2016).
Soldiers are tasked not only with caring for other soldiers, an emotional burden, but also with fighting for their own lives in a combat situation. Time is a critical factor and variable in this experiment, as studies show that even 10 years after deployment, PTSD can still be a debilitating condition for those affected, and can drastically change lives (Richardson, Frueh, & Acierno, 2010). In fact, there is a threefold increase in the onset of PTSD in military personnel when surveyed after deployment and after exposure to a combat situation. (Smith et al. 2008).