Essay: PTSD Addressing PTSD in Iraq Veterans

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PTSD

Addressing PTSD in Iraq Veterans

One out of every three United States Army and Marine Corps personnel that have served tours of duty in Iraq since the beginning of the recent conflict there almost a decade ago has sought treatment for some form of mental disturbance since their return, and as many as one out of every five of these soldiers has been determined to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD (Vendantam 2006). The video Night Visions briefly recounts one soldier's experience in Iraq and the way in which PTSD has affected him since his return. After witnessing the violent deaths of Iraqi civilians and soldiers as well as many of his American comrades and attending no less than eleven memorial services while in Iraq himself, Blake Roberts came home to a world that he cannot quite make sense of, and in which he is haunted by dreams that repeat the scenes of horror he witnessed -- when he manages to get to sleep, that is. PTSD continues to have a major negative impact on the lives of many soldiers and their families, yet goes largely unnoticed by the wider public. Because knowledge of PTSD is so low, many soldiers are finding it difficult to find the support they need, and this must change if they are to become healthy and productive members of normal civilian society, able to contribute and exist as they did before.

PTSD can affect anyone that has gone through a traumatic experience, and most soldiers' experiences in any combat situation would certainly count as traumatic when compared to their normal civilian lives. This does not mean that all soldiers end up suffering from PTSD, but the more prolonged and extreme their exposure to violence and trauma is, the more likely it is that a case of PTSD will develop. Given the levels of violence in Iraq, where soldiers are far more likely to witness the death of both civilians and comrades than in other arenas, rates of PTSD have increased dramatically (Vendantam 2006).

Blake Roberts certainly experienced more than his share of traumatic experiences while serving his tour of duty in Iraq. Working nineteen and twenty hour days for weeks at a time, with only a few hours to sleep each day, Roberts described himself and his fellow soldiers as "walking zombies." This state of impaired ability made the scenes of violence and horror that he witnessed all the more traumatic; though they were perhaps more surreal seen through the lens of a lack of sleep, this only had the effect of making the difference between nightmare and reality all the more blurred, when in actuality reality was already worse than most nightmares people experience. It is little wonder, then, that Roberts is unable to comprehend how people in the civilian world can drink their Starbucks' and talk on their cell phones with no real concern when his reality included a constant awareness of impending death, pain, and loss for such a prolonged period of his life.

Having served three tours of duty in Iraq myself, I am just as familiar as Roberts with the horrors of what occurs during warfare, and specifically in the civilian centers of Iraq where so much violence was concentrated. I am also all too familiar with the effects of witnessing this violence and death even after I was able to return home. Though I am consciously aware that I am safe, and that the ever-present dangers of Iraq are no longer a part of my life here in the United States,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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PTSD Addressing PTSD in Iraq Veterans.  (2010, November 8).  Retrieved June 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ptsd-addressing-iraq-veterans/90298

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"PTSD Addressing PTSD in Iraq Veterans."  Essaytown.com.  November 8, 2010.  Accessed June 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ptsd-addressing-iraq-veterans/90298.