PTSD: Facts and Resources

It has been noted by all branches of the military that many soldiers are currently suffering from one form or another of mental illness. While it is true that this trend has happened in previous wars, statistically, our troops that served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a much higher rate of returning home with a mental health issue.

The two most common forms of mental illness that have been displayed by our troops are major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. Usually the two are found in tandem.

Oil on canvas "Panic Attack or Anxiety PTSD" by George Grie Title
Oil on canvas “Panic Attack or Anxiety PTSD” by George Grie

PTSD has multiple symptoms which include recurring nightmares, difficulty sleeping and performing daily tasks, combined with hesitation or even an outright refusal to discuss events of a traumatic nature. The diagnosis of such a disorder can only be made after several weeks of continued symptoms. PTSD is usually accompanied by major depression, which causes an anxiety disorder that usually occurs after experiencing a traumatic event.

Psychiatrists project that one in three soldiers will suffer from PTSD after serving in the Middle East. This rate increases by 50% if the soldier is deployed twice.

Approximately 30% of our soldiers develop mental issues within 3 to 4 months after they return home[1]. Between 2002 and 2012, 1.6 million service members left active duty and were eligible for veteran healthcare. It is sad to say that only 56% sought treatment.

Another sad fact is 20% of Middle Eastern veterans will turn to heavy drinking or drugs upon returning home. This is most likely to occur when the soldier does not seek help regarding his or her stress level.

In 2010, 20 veterans committed suicide daily on average. They were primarily men between 50 and 59 years of age[2].

Here are some support resources for either yourself or a loved one:

  1. General crisis support by text. Text “Support” to 741741.
  2. Gen. crisis support by phone: call center 1-800 – 273 – 8255
  4. The American Legion or your local VFW post

More specific issues such as:

  1. Depression and suicide – the Trevor project – 1-866 – 488 – 7386
  2. domestic violence – 1-800 – 799 – 7233
  3. child abuse hotline: 1-800 – 422 – 4453
  4. Or you can go online to check

It is important to add that all of the above listed supports are available on a 24/7 basis.

Please seek medical help immediately if you notice:

  • unusual behavior
  • drug or alcohol abuse
  • hopelessness
  • rage
  • dramatic mood swings
  • sleep disturbances
  • threats/attempts at suicide

Also, please keep the aforementioned telephone numbers for crisis support, as well as the websites. You never know if or when they may be needed. Always remember that symptoms are not always noticeable when a soldier first returns home. It is wise to keep an eye out for the symptoms, especially if they continue over an extended period of time.

[1] Salamon, Maureen. (2010) After the Battle: 7 Health Problems Facing Veterans. Retrieved July 15, 2012 online from:

[2] Salamon, Maureen. (2010) After the Battle: 7 Health Problems Facing Veterans. Retrieved July 15, 2012 online from:

Teresa Agostino

Originally from Canada, Terri moved to the US at 16 and joined the Army Reserves at 17. She went active Army in 1991, and spent almost 2 years in Iraq as a program analyst for the Army Corps of Engineers. She currently works for the VA as an Accounts Management Supervisor. Terri has her MBA in HR management.
Teresa Agostino

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