On 6/27/21 Dr. Michael Haynie wrote an opinion piece for The Hill discussing the toll on veterans’ mental health fighting in wars. You can read an excerpt below.
“It is past time that all Americans commit to ending the scourge of military-connected suicide. We must hold our politicians and policymakers accountable to define a whole-of-the-nation plan that ensures our veterans and service members have access to robust mental health resources. That commitment should begin today — on National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day.
National PTSD Awareness Day was established to encourage Americans to better understand and reflect on the relationship between traumatic life events, and mental health. Contrary to the stereotype, PTSD is not confined only to those who experience wartime trauma. Countless Americans struggle with the effects of PTSD, stemming from traumatic events such as sexual assault or other incidents of violence. That said, the trauma of war makes PTSD the most pressing mental health challenge facing the military community.
There are several reasons that researchers have identified to explain why PTSD is so persistent and pervasive among veterans in general, and specifically among those who have fought our wars since 2001. Yet, I would contend one reason stands above the rest.
Over the last 20 years, the American public became increasingly disconnected from war and its associated costs. Consider that a 2018 poll found that 42 percent of Americans are either unaware of ongoing conflict, or believed that the global war on terror had ended. In other words, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragged on, those fighting those wars became more isolated from civil society. At the same time, those veterans and service members watched their friends and teammates succumb to the trauma of war. A recent poll conducted by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) found that 67 percent of post-9/11 veterans know another post-9/11 veteran who attempted or died by suicide.”