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Kevin Horii
Mr. Rogers
US Government
2 November 2015
MCRP RD - Veterans Affairs
American military troops put themselves at risk, volunteering to fight for their country at
the cost to themselves. These brave men and women willingly place their well-being and
personal safety behind them in order to serve and protect not just themselves, but their families:
their wives and husbands, their sons and daughters, their fathers and mothers. These men define
the word brave--the words selfless and noble. Yet when they return home to America,
revered as heroes, neglect them. The government lets soldiers die on the streets where they grew
up and looked back to as home. But why would this home allow thousands of heroes to
suffer from mental illnesses, untreated? Why would this Home allow thousands of heroes to
take their own lives in their bedrooms after surviving unrelenting mortar bombardments and
deadly crossfires. The United States must mandate psychological evaluations on all Armed
Forces service members returning from active duty because tending to mental health issues as
soon as possible expedites recovery, the negative stigma linked with suffering from mental
illnesses, and the high prevalence of mental illnesses in US Military Veterans.
After finishing a tour of duty, a soldier failing to admit a mental health issue, whether
because of a lack of awareness, shame, or otherwise, can be extremely detrimental to his or her
health. A failure to seek treatment can lead to a more serious psychological condition
(Understanding and Overcoming the Stigma of PTSD). People suffering from Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD) who do not receive immediate medical attention allow the psychological

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problems to manifest inside their minds, until the issues become more extreme--almost
insufferable. These patients will reach a point where they absolutely require care. Additionally,
intervening as soon as possible for these types of mental health cases helps to prevent PTSD
(Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). By taking initiative and discovering symptoms early in the
disorders lifespan, the government could completely prevent the more serious symptoms from
developing. Early intervention into soldiers with possible mental health issues is beneficial to the
both the soldiers and for the government.
Some soldiers may not know they are suffering from PTSD, but the ones who do know
still are not guaranteed to seek treatment. The stereotype of Warrior Culture frowns upon
mental illnesses as a serious problem and sees those who seek help for it as a sign of weakness
(Can Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Be Stopped). Instead of turning to Veterans Affairs
hospitals and medical treatments to solve their problems, soldiers suffer silently and internally in
order to hide from the vulnerability brought on by shame. By making psychological evaluations
necessary for every soldier, the soldier does not need to be concerned about hiding his illness.
However, this stigma can be turned around. In fact, Army leaders have stated that a soldier who
seeks support to address mental health issues demonstrates inner strength and embodies the
Warrior Ethos (Haire). Until more military service members can be educated about the extreme
courage it takes to admit that you need help, mandatory evaluations will assist these soldiers in
finding a treatment. Asking for assistance is the first step in the difficult process of curing a
mental illness.
Mental health issues in United States Military Veterans has been a recurring problem
since at least the Vietnam War. In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, it
has been estimated that about about 11-20% of soldiers served suffer from PTSD in a given year

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(How Common Is PTSD?). The alarmingly high rate of soldiers returning from combat who
suffer from these illnesses prompts the government to help these soldiers and help them receive
treatment. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals offer excellent care for Veterans, but only
46% who returned from Iraq or Afghanistan chose to receive Veterans Affairs help, if they were
eligible (Mental Health Effects of Serving in Afghanistan and Iraq). By passing this bill and
requiring all service members to receive treatment for psychological and mental issues, those
who suffer from PTSD will be able to receive immediate care and the highest level of care in the
The warrior stigma regarding mental illnesses that follows the military is detrimental to
those suffering from PTSD because it is believed that the stigma can be easily changed and that
PTSD is not a problem to begin with. Professionals have stated that one solution to the issue of
warriors stigma is to simply spread awareness of the serious mental problems that arise from
combat. The emergence of war-related PTSD hinges as much on a persons or cultures
philosophical stance towards war as much as it does on the existence of war itself (Paulson and
Krippner 2). However, a societys perception of a topic does not change overnight, and in order
for American troops to receive the best care in the least possible amount of time, the government
needs to step in and take action. Following this stigma, people believe that PTSD does not cause
any serious, long-term problems in patients. This is a false sentiment. Even after deployment
ends, experiences of war can lead to long-lasting intrusive memories, avoidance behaviors or
emotional numbing, and increased anxiety or emotional arousal (Can Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder Be Stopped Before It Begins?). In addition to the health issues that stem from PTSD
symptoms, suffering from this disorder significantly affects a soldiers socioeconomic status as
well. PTSD is associated with high medical costs and high social costs because PTSD is a

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strong risk factor for crime, poor work performance and associated job losses, and familial
discord (Gartlehner). PTSD is detrimental to a soldiers mental health, which in turn affects
how his life plays out. If the military continues to let its soldiers go without treatment and care in
order to cure this illness, then the government should not be sending soldiers to fight overseas in
the first place.
By requiring United States Armed Forces service members to take psychological
evaluations at the conclusion of each tour of duty, the government can prevent and expedite
treatment of PTSD and other combat-related mental illnesses, help soldiers combat the stigma
that suffering from a mental illness is shameful, and overall increase the number of Veterans
treated after returning to the states. The government cannot let these soldiers risk everything for
it, only to have it turn its backs to them after they return home. The government cannot let battles
at home take more lives than battles overseas.

Works Cited
"Can Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Be Stopped Before It Begins?" UC San Francisco.
University of California San Francisco, 30 Aug. 2010. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.
Gartlehner, Gerald. "Interventions for the Prevention of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in
Adults After Exposure to Psychological Trauma [Internet]." U.S. National Library of
Medicine. Unites States National Institutes of Health, Apr. 2013. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.

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Haire, Tamara. "Financial Problems or PTSD Need Not Affect Security Clearance."
WWW.ARMY.MIL. United States Army, 22 July 2011. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
Hermes, Eric D., Robert A. Rosenheck, Rani Desai, Dr., and Alan F. Fontana, Dr. "Recent
Trends in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Disorders in
the VHA." Psychiatric Services 63.5 (2012): 471-76. Psychiatric Services. May 2012.
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"How Common Is PTSD?" PTSD: National Center for PTSD. United States Department of
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Litz, and Orsillo. "The Returning Veteran of the Iraq War: Background Issues and Assessment
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Paulson, Daryl S., and Stanley Krippner. Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War
Veterans Including Women, Reservists, and Those Coming Back From Iraq. Westport,
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"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." University of Maryland Medical Center. University of
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Psychiatry 44.1 (2010): 419. PMC. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

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"The Statistics." PTSD Foundation of America Combat Trauma Support Groups. PTSD
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