What is Post Traumatic Stress?
It’s “PTSD” without the “D.”
First of all, notice that we do not call it a disorder? Society calls it a disorder, but post traumatic stress is no less serious for many veterans as is a physical battlefield wound. We do not call physical wounds a “disorder” so we do not call post traumatic stress a “disorder.” However, in order not to confuse visitors to our website, you will find that we will often refer to PTSD throughout this website with the “D” intact.
Post traumatic Stress, or PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.
PTSD is marked by clear biological changes as well as psychological symptoms. PTSD is complicated by the fact that it frequently occurs in conjunction with related disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. The disorder is also associated with impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.
As stated, PTSD is not a new disorder. There are written accounts of similar symptoms that go back to ancient times, and there is clear documentation in the historical medical literature starting with the Civil War, when a PTSD-like disorder was known as “Da Costa’s Syndrome.” There are particularly good descriptions of post traumatic stress symptoms in the medical literature on combat veterans of World War II and on Holocaust survivors.
Careful research and documentation of PTSD began in earnest after the Vietnam War. The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study estimated in 1988 that the prevalence of PTSD in that group was 15.2% at that time and that 30% had experienced the disorder at some point since returning from Vietnam.
PTSD has subsequently been observed in all veteran populations that have been studied, including World War II, Korean conflict, and Persian Gulf populations, and in United Nations peacekeeping forces deployed to other war zones around the world. There are remarkably similar findings of PTSD in military veterans in other countries. For example, Australian Vietnam veterans experience many of the same symptoms that American Vietnam veterans experience.
PTSD is not only a problem for veterans, however. Although there are unique cultural- and gender-based aspects of the disorder, it occurs in men and women, adults and children, Western and non-Western cultural groups, and all socioeconomic strata. A national study of American civilians conducted in 1995 estimated that the lifetime prevalence of PTSD was 5% in men and 10% in women.
How does PTSD develop?
Most people who are exposed to a traumatic, stressful event experience some of the symptoms of PTSD in the days and weeks following exposure. Available data suggests that about 8% of men and 20% of women go on to develop PTSD, and roughly 30% of these individuals develop a chronic form that persists throughout their lifetimes.
The course of chronic PTSD usually involves periods of symptom increase followed by remission or decrease, although some individuals may experience symptoms that are unremitting and severe. Some older veterans, who report a lifetime of only mild symptoms, experience significant increases in symptoms following retirement, severe medical illness in themselves or their spouses, or reminders of their military service (such as reunions or media broadcasts of the anniversaries of war events).
If you have questions about PTSD, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 858-552-7501.
What Exactly is the Safe Warrior Outreach Program?
This program is a weekly meeting where veterans and active duty personnel come together and work through combat related stress or post traumatic stress. At the meeting, you will immediately realize that you are not alone. Your support will come from other combat veterans–people who share your experiences.
All veterans and active duty military personnel are invited to attend these group sessions. Sessions are led by an ACVOW facilitator each Monday in Oceanside. Attendees talk about whatever is on their mind and often work through post traumatic stress related issues with other veterans. To enquire about the Safe Warrior Outreach Program call 858-552-7501 or just come to a meeting.
We meet every Tuesday evening at 1900 hrs at our headquarters, 3508 Seagate Way, Suite 160, Oceanside, CA 92056 (see map on Headquarters National Training Center page).
Can anyone come to the Safe Warrior Outreach Meetings?
Yes. It is open to all active duty and veteran military personnel. You can call or just show up. If you are not military, we ask that you contact us before coming to a meeting. Call us at 858-552-7501 or email your request to email@example.com. Telephone at the Headquarters is 760-696-0460.
What are the rules of the meetings? Are there officers present?
There are no rules. Say whatever you want. We only ask that you are respectful of others, even when you disagree. And yes, officers often come to our meetings, but we leave our rank at the door.
How do I know if I suffer from PTSD?
Signs of PTSD can include depression, feelings of isolation, excessive or irrational rage, avoidance of feelings, anxiety reactions, intrusive thoughts or images of battlefield memories and survival guilt. For a more complete explanation of the signs of PTSD, please attend.
I do not suffer from PTSD, but I know someone who may.
What can I do to help?
Get in touch with one of our ACVOW veterans and we will help you find a solution that is right for your situation. Call 858-552-7501 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I help ACVOW?
You can help in a number of ways. Call our office at 858-552-7501 and ask what you can do to help. We are always looking for volunteers to help out with any of our fundraisers or public relations events. Better yet, if you would like to host a fundraiser yourself, that would be a great to help. If fundraising is not quite to your liking, call us anyway. We’ll put you to work on one of our mailing or emailing campaigns.
If you are a veteran and would like to participate in our meetings, or want to host a Warrior Outreach meeting, be sure to let us know.
Will anyone from my unit know I was at the meetings?
The only way anyone from your unit will know if you are at the meeting is if they are at the same meeting. In that case, you both have something in common and may find interest in helping one another. Otherwise, your identity is kept private.
For more information, please go to the VA’s National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder www.ptsd.va.gov and view their Fact Sheet.