PTSD and the Stigma Veterans Face

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Back in November, the San Antonio Express-News published an article entitled “Stigma is biggest hurdle for veterans with PTSD.” It addressed the issue that many veterans face in a culture where the concept of “being strong” is somehow equated with hiding or ignoring mental health issues. Kimberly Kjome, psychiatrist at the Seton Mind Institute, described how this culture is particularly intensified in the military. “Veterans with PTSD are constantly bombarded with dismissal and shaming, in the form of others’ ignorance about their diagnosis but also in the words that we, and more importantly our leaders, use to continue this stigma.”

What exactly is the stigma associated with PTSD?

The Carter Center released an important report defining stigma, as it relates to mental health, as “a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses.” The stigma typically surfaces as a result of two factors: public fear and a feeling of being out of control. This can be especially difficult for veterans suffering with PTSD, as they might be bombarded with inaccurate stereotypes that depict them as unpredictable, incompetent, dangerous or even to blame for their own illness.  

Although some federal and charitable funding exists through organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project, many veterans with PTSD are underserved not just because of the lack of access to care for PTSD, like counseling, peer support, social services, and education about natural remedies like the ones we offer at Think Botanicals, but also because of the stigma that surrounds mental health. Veterans suffering from PTSD may fear embarrassment or shame if they seek help. Even worse, they may fear they’ll be hospitalized.

As Kjome rightly asserts, “We must understand that character and illness are two separate things. We have to acknowledge that PTSD can and does happen to our courageous, our strong, our survivors. By creating a culture receptive to the experience of our combat veterans, we are making it safe for them to receive the care they need.” She goes on to explain, “PTSD is a medical condition caused by a specific cascade of endocrine and neurotransmitter systems meant to prepare the brain and body for more trauma. Unfortunately, there is no switch that turns off this system. What that means for a veteran with PTSD who is expected to re-engage with society is that he or she is still operating in a mode to cope with imminent danger. It is potentially a 24-hour-a-day torment.”

This issue weighs heavily on our minds here at Think Botanicals. We are a company that supports veterans and advocates for helpful treatments of PTSD. There is absolutely no judgement here, just encouragement. Please come in and talk with us if you’d like information on any of our products that treat PTSD symptoms.

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