There is an invisible affliction that is affecting and debilitating our servicemen returning home to Pennsylvania from combat overseas. Unlike gunshot wounds and the visible effects of injuries such as scars and amputations, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) leaves no outward physical sign. According to a professor at Harvard Medical School, there is, however, a visible change in the brain of someone suffering from PTSD.
An advocacy group that works with returning vets across The Keystone State has noticed a shift in the type of injuries that have been making it difficult for servicemen to return to civilian life. In 2010, most of the injuries that were hindering a vet's ability to transition back into civilian life were physical -- now the organization has noted that 85 percent of the vets coming to them for assistance are suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms of PTSD include recurring and stress-inducing flashbacks, feelings of isolation and depression, insomnia, being easily startled, and an overall sense of tenseness that can severely interfere with normal activities.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the numbers of servicemen who are returning home that are suffering from PTSD ranges between 11 and 20 percent. Part of the problem facing veterans with PTSD is that many people can't understand how it affects someone if they haven't been through it themselves. Many of the veterans returning home are looking for a chance to become productive members of society again, but a key factor in exacerbating the debilitating effects of PTSD is the stress generated by efforts to find work in civilian life.
It's been estimated there are millions of veterans in The United States afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder. The ability to obtain veterans' benefits within a reasonable time can be crucial to a returning serviceman's ability to overcome the injuries sustained in combat and to return to a normal and productive civilian life. Veterans in Pennsylvania have learned that waiting times can be significantly reduced by teaming up with those who are familiar with the system and have the insider's expertise that can track the progress of a claim so it can be brought to the attention of the proper parties should it become lost in the already substantial backlog.
Source: americanhomecomings.com, "Pa. nonprofit sees more veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury," Brandie Kessler, Aug. 5, 2013