When PTSD is discussed, it always seems to be about treatment–after the wounds have been made. From medication to group therapy and now adventure therapy, the means to cope follow weeks, months and often years after traumatic events, when the damage has already been done.

Four years ago, when my platoon lost a soldier in Iraq, it wore us out. It felt like we aged a decade in one morning. But instead of wallowing in pity, we kept going on missions, we kept laughing, and most of all, we kept together. Home might as well been on another planet, so we couldn’t rely on families or wives or girlfriends. It had to be one another, and the buy-in had to be absolute. When the fighting intensified, no man faltered or broke down in the face of the enemy. I credit that to how we dealt with stress and mental fatigue before it manifested itself in serious ways.

The Marines have taken that informal theory and transformed it into a common sense practice in Afghanistan. From The Wall Street Journal:

That moment, and those that followed, epitomize the new approach to combat stress that the Marine Corps wants to institutionalize. Faced with a wave of mental-health problems among returning troops, the Corps is training young Marines—down to corporals and sergeants—to sniff out combat stress among their peers on the front lines and tackle it directly on the field of battle.

Check out the whole article. Do you think this training will help curtail the growing problem of post-traumatic stress?

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6 Comments

  1. Eddie D. Palacios May 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I sure hope our returning brothers from Iraq and Afghanistan are not required to jump thru hoops to get compensated for PTSD, unlike us, the Viet Nam Vet whom just happened to be there in a Combat Support capacity. There is a different play book for compensation when it comes to VietNam Vets. WHY IS THAT?

  2. Jack Kelley April 16, 2011 at 9:05 am

    From ABC News:
    In a study published Friday in the journal Pain Practice, Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), a ten-minute procedure that applies local anesthetic to a bundle of nerves in the neck, proved an effective remedy for this anxiety disorder, potentially offering an alternative to the pharmaceuticals traditionally used to treat the flashbacks, anger, anxiety, and sleep disturbances caused by PTSD.

    What about this? Is the VA developing trials of this procedure?

  3. Jesse Gallo April 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Well said Jim. Great article Alex.

  4. FJ April 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    VA / DoD need to stop adding the ‘D’ on the end — call it Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)… period.

    Once you label someone with a ‘Disorder’ they’re less likely to seek help.

    • PANV April 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      AGREE

      DO AWAY WITH DISORDER.

      Suggestion – PTSC Post Traumatic Stress CONDITION.

  5. jim April 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

    In a most successful 60 year old aged “I” statement as I reflect in silience and truths; my journey was delayed by me.

    Acceptance to resilience is a pathway. The greatest asset came not from vets, but police and firefighters calls at O dark-Thirty, EMS. Many I discovered had trauma events in their professional journey. Often in a isolation and in a loner mode…the humbleness came from community partners not just the VA, but a fellowship of sojourners. Trauma is Greek, it is defined as “wound.” Wounds heal, sometimes quickly depending on the energy “I” put into it and sometimes slowly.The VA has greatly engaged the process..toll free numbers, and Er professionals are alert to a warriors journey.

    Did a action therapy help? yes, does music therapy help? Yes. Does not being alone when my wound surfaces scare me is the boggy man under my bed?…absolute. I learned to accept im wounded, yet the wound is NOT who I am..This is a journey of fellowships, VA, community, busy hands and bonds.

    I guess my fellows have a saying that comes to mind..it only heals when you take the first step..and that is acceptance. Anything else is simply “denial.”

    Good article Alex…as always..vr j.

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