PTSD: What You Should Know

According to Jon Karon, “In World War I, they called it shell shock. Second time around, they called it battle fatigue. After ‘Nam,’ it was post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The horrors witnessed by our military service men and women have changed with time, advances in equipment and technological capabilities. Nevertheless, war and other traumatic events transform individuals in unique, and yet similar, ways. For some, painful memories fade over time, but for others, the negative thoughts and feelings do not disappear.

What is PTSD?

In this day and age, many have heard the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) mentioned. Most often it is talked about in association with war and the mental health issues many veterans face. But what is PTSD exactly?

PTSD can actually develop months or even years after the traumatic event. If painful memories, thoughts and feelings linger for months or years and disrupt everyday life, individuals should seek a definite diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

The statistics for PTSD in 2018 are startling. Here are some of the highlights reported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Nation Center for PTSD and the not-for-profit organization PTSD United:

  • In the United States, approximately 70 percentof adults, or about 223 million people,  experienced some type of traumatic event at least one time in their lives.
  • It is believed up to 20 percentof these individuals will develop PTSD. This means approximately 44.7 million people are battling or have struggled with PTSD.
  • At any given time, it is estimated that 24.4 million Americans have PTSD. To put this statistic in perspective, this sum equals the total population of Texas.
  • With regard to the military, up to 30 percent of Vietnam War veterans, up to 10 percent of Gulf War veterans and approximately 20 percent of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, the number of PTSD diagnoses keeps rising with last year alone, increasing by 50 percent.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

According to American Psychiatry Association, the symptoms of PTSD fall into four categories:

  • Revisiting the traumatic experience:
    • Symptoms take the form of flashbacks, nightmares and involuntary memories.
  • Emotional distance:
    • Sufferers avoid people, activities and places that serve as traumatic reminders.
  • Extremes of emotion:
    • People with PTSD can be easily angered, feel jittery, act reckless and/or have trouble sleeping and staying focused.
  • Negative thoughts and feelings:
    • Guilt, shame, fear and lowering self-esteem tend to be a common thread in people with PTSD.

PTSD Treatment Options

When it comes to treatment options for PTSD, there are three primary goals:

  • Reduce the number of symptoms
  • Teach the person with PTSD how to cope
  • Rebuild self-esteem and self-worth

The primary method of accomplishing these goals is with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapists are committed to helping PTSD sufferers adapt and change their way of thinking about traumatic events. For the most part, those with PTSD are encouraged to talk about the events and determine strategies to overcome and conquer the fears associated with the trauma.

PTSD and Hospice

As part of the “We Honor Veterans” program, which is a partnership between the Veterans Administration, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the hospices of Chapters Health—Good Shepherd HospiceHPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice, there is a deep understanding of the unique needs of veterans and particularly those who have a PTSD diagnosis. The partnership provides hospice staff and volunteers with the education and training necessary to serve veterans through the challenges they may face from traumatic life experiences as a result of serving in the military.

At Chapters Health System and its affiliatesGood Shepherd Hospice, HPH Hospice and LifePath Hospice, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients, young and old alike, and their families are able to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to info@chaptershealth.org.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Corporate Communications for Chapters Health System, manages all content and communications for the not-for-profit organization.

The Meaning behind Traditional Flag Folding

There are many names for the American flag: Old Glory; The Stars and Stripes; The Red, White, and Blue; and The Star-Spangled Banner to name a few. The original 13-star version of the flag was first unveiled on June 14, 1777, and that is why June 14 is known as Flag Day. And in case you were wondering, our current 50-star flag has flown since July 4, 1960.

At some point in time, whether in person or witnessed on television or in film, you probably saw the folding of the flag. Have you ever noticed that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the flag? The flag is folded exactly 13 times in remembrance of the original 13 colonies. But did you know there is a specific meaning to each fold?

Here is what each fold of the flag means:

  • The first fold symbolizes life.
  • The second fold represents a belief in eternal life.
  • The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans who gave their lives in defense of the country in order to help attain peace throughout the world.
  • The fourth fold is in recognition of the nature of the country’s citizens to trust in God.
  • The fifth fold is a tribute to the United States. According to Stephen Decatur, U. S. Naval Commander during the American Revolution and War of 1812, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
  • The sixth fold symbolizes where people’s hearts lie in keeping with the words of our pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
  • The seventh fold pays tribute to the armed forces. After all, through our armed forces, the United States is protected against all enemies.
  • The eighth fold is a tribute to those who died, and as Psalm 23 states, “entered into the valley of the shadow of death.”
  • The ninth fold honors womanhood.
  • The 10th fold is a tribute to fathers.
  • The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in Judaism, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  • The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the eyes of Christians, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.
  • The 13th and last fold reminds us that when the flag is completely folded, in the uppermost corned signify our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

Additionally, when the flag is completely folded and tucked in, the resulting shape appears like a tricorne hat and represents the soldiers who served under General George Washington, the sailors and marines who served under Naval Commander John Paul Jones and the many who have followed them in order to preserve the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today. So in the future when you see a flag folded, you will hopefully now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the tradition.

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