Answers from moms who know

PTSD a common diagnosis for moms returning from active duty

For women, serving in the military is another check mark we can add to the “win” column in the fight for equality.  We’re on the frontlines of combat, driving tanks and tracking missiles. As with any battle, there are some wins and unfortunately, some loses. Now that we’ve won the fight for the privilege of serving in the military, another is rearing its ugly head. That battle is the number of mothers returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

The National Center for PTSD defines the condition as “an anxiety disorder after a person has been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something horrible and scary that you see or that happens to you.” The Department of Veteran’s Affairs reports the number of women serving in the military in the last 30 years has doubled to upwards of 350,000 women. The VA says with more women serving in the military than ever before, the number of PTSD diagnoses has increased. A 2010 study by the VA and a Standford University team found that of the 90,000 veterans researched that received a mental health condition diagnosis, 27 percent of the women were diagnosed with PTSD.

PTSD cannot be cured, only treated. So how do women cope with daily life after the military? As if the job of “mom” isn’t full of challenges all its own, add to the mix a diagnosis that requires ongoing treatment for some. One mother, who returned from Iraq in 2003, told  CNN how she still grapples with the terror she witnessed during the war. June Moss said, “I do notice when I’m stressing out that I start having dreams about what I saw and how I felt, it does come back as if to haunt you.” Not one to give up, Moss has been actively seeking treatment for her PTSD so it doesn’t affect her two children telling CNN, “I’m constantly working on how I’m thinking.” Moss keeps up a daily routine of exercise, meditation and listening to gospel music. She also follows a mantra of staying positive drowning out negativity.

Moss is certainly an inspiring success story for a lot of moms who have returned or will be returning from their war tour. But how can we, the family members and friends, who have not see the realities these women have faced, be helpful and supportive? The VA says there are many ways family and friends can assist their loved one suffering from PTSD. Number one is education. Learning the facts about PTSD is invaluable when dealing with a diagnosis. Other important actions are planning activities to keep your loved one busy are helpful. The VA suggests dinner dates or movies. Of course exercise is also on the list. Being physically active, like running or biking, not only keeps your body feeling great it also helps clear the fog out of your mind and allows you to stay focused.

If you would like more information about PTSD please visit The National Center for PTSD website.


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