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Would You Strip For PTSD Awareness?

Battling Bare is a private organization of women who have stripped down to promote awareness of PTSD. Their Facebook page features pictures of women who have bared their backs printed with a poem about PTSD. According to the description written by founder Ashley Wise,

“The purpose is to create an outlet for wives that are at their wits end trying to help their husbands heal…women who feel all alone in their struggle. Let us unite to raise awareness, battle back for healing, create hope and take away the feeling of being alone.”
Whether you approve or not, the group has nearly 15,000 "likes" and growing on their Facebook page. I’m tempted to do a little strippage myself. After all, using the female body to draw awareness to pretty much anything does, in fact, work. Women’s bodies have been used since the dawn of advertising to sell everything from toothpaste to tools to Toyotas. Our brains are designed to tune in to women’s bodies immediately.

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So, like the breastfeeding in uniform group before them, why shouldn’t Battling Bare power forward with a few risqué photos?

My inner sociologist might be fainting dead away, but the practical part of me would go with it, I think. The thing is: is “awareness” of PTSD enough?  Is the notoriety brought in by a Facebook page, a web post, a spot on Good Morning America enough to actually solve the problem of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress?

PTSD is no secret condition. June is National PTSD Awareness Month. PTSD scores 19 million hits on Google. Episodes of TV shows like Bones and Law and Order and Grey’s Anatomy have all featured PTSD at one time or another for the past ten years. When the wife of SSGT Robert Bales appeared on TV saying that she was unaware of the symptoms of PTSD, it shocked the community. How can you be in the military and be unaware of PTSD?

Maybe this most recent campaign should remind us that awareness is not enough anymore. Publicity stunts are not enough. What we need is a whole-community way to treat PTSD and PTS so that they go away and stay away for good. Every time we get a post on SpouseBuzz from a Vietnam vet who still suffers from PTSD I know that for sure. Every time we get a letter from a military brat whose childhood was marked by a parent came home from war depressed and anxious and scarred by PTSD I am more convinced. Every new treatment I read about and every message from the command that urges individuals to be treated gives me cause for hope.

I’m not convinced that campaigns to raise awareness will change the current experience of PTSD. Then again, what will?

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