PTSD is treatable

Myth: Everyone in the RPA community suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Fact: According to a 2014 paper from the United Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, studies have shown that 4.3 percent of Air Force RPA operators report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This is lower than the 4 to 18% of PTSD reported among those returning from the battlefield and lower than the projected lifetime risk of PTSD for Americans (8.7%, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In addition, Creech Air Force Base established a Human Performance Team in 2011 comprised of an operational psychologist, an operational and aerospace physiologist, three flight surgeons and two Religious Support Teams to aid Airmen in dealing with stressors.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a consequence of a traumatic experience. It consists of normal responses and reactions to a life-threatening event that persisted beyond what is deemed the normal period of recovery from the event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a well-known term in the military, but few people know exactly what it is or how prevalent it is.

PTSD is a consequence of a traumatic experience.  It consists of normal responses and reactions to a life-threatening event that persisted beyond what is deemed the normal period of recovery from the event.

Avoidance is a staple of PTSD, as it allows one to escape the memories and reminders of the trauma.  However, this avoidance actually perpetuates the PTSD response and hinders the brain’s way of processing the event.

Many people may think, “Yes, I experience some of these reactions, but I can deal with it.”  They are not alone.

According to the National Center for PTSD, 11 to 20 percent of service members (one out of five) who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom experience PTSD in a given year, following their deployment or deployments.

Not only does PTSD affect service members across the world, it also affects hundreds of people here.  In fact, PTSD is one of the top three reasons service members visited the Mental Health Clinic last year.

PTSD does not affect just service members.  Dependents can also be affected by PTSD as a result of trauma, and they should seek help too.

The National Center for PTSD, states seven to eight percent of the United States population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, and about eight million adults experience PTSD in a given year.

The good news is PTSD is treatable!  There are several resources on base available to service members experiencing, or who suspect someone is experiencing PTSD and needs some extra help or support.

PTSD is difficult, but it is even more difficult for someone who is fighting alone.  Reach out and be a Wingman.  Reaching out might be just what a person needs to finally seek out the help they need.  No one should fight PTSD alone.

Walk in or call the Mental Health Clinic, 883-8373; contact the Behavioral Health Optimization Program, 883-8600; the Chaplain’s office, 882-2111; the Employee Assistance Program, 882-1551; the Military Family Life Counselor office, (850) 461-4525 or the Airman and Family Readiness Center, 882-9060.

Dependents, or service members who think their dependent is struggling with PTSD, can contact Military OneSource, (800) 342-9647; the MFLC, Chaplain’s office or the A&FRC.