The National Center for PTSD defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as:
[A] psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape.
Although PTSD isn't exclusive to combat exposure, it seems combat veterans are particularly vulnerable.
PTSD has subsequently been observed in all veteran populations that have been studied, including World War II, Korean conflict, and Persian Gulf populations, and in United Nations peacekeeping forces deployed to other war zones around the world. There are remarkably similar findings of PTSD in military veterans in other countries. For example, Australian Vietnam veterans experience many of the same symptoms that American Vietnam veterans experience.
Two days ago, someone sent me a link to a blog titled PTSD Soldier. The blog is written by a mother whose son is suffering from PTSD.
This mother's son was injured in combat. She describes PTSD as more difficult to deal with than physical wounds.
A perfectly normal, happy young man joined the US Army and went to war. The man we knew did not return. His physical wounds have healed... his invisible wounds are worse...
I was thinking today that we could not have imagined how long a journey this would be when the Army called us so many months ago to tell us he had been wounded... How relieved we were when his injuries healed and he returned to his unit... We thought that the hard part was over. We could not have imagined that those were just the first steps in this nightmare of a very long journey.
I've heard from military wives who have stood by their spouses as they suffered from varying degrees of PTSD. Some have watched their spouses experience minor symptoms, others have had a more difficult time. It stands to reason that PTSD is a natural, though unfortunate, byproduct of war. There should be no stigma attached to PTSD, yet it seems there is. Many people are afraid, for various reasons, to openly discuss PTSD. This is unfortunate.
If you want to learn more about PTSD, or seek help, here are a few resources to get you started.