War veterans represent the population hardest hit by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Characterized as a type of prolonged anxiety that results from exposure to a traumatic event, PTSD affects thousands of soldiers each year, and is much more prevalent in times of war or combat. Individuals who suffer from this disorder can experience a myriad of symptoms that may vary in severity, including flashbacks, nightmares, night terrors, emotional outbursts, anger management problems, generalized anxiety, mood swings, depression, hopelessness, and despair.
According to many medical professionals, individuals exposed to combat or war-like settings experience a surge in fight–or-flight responses. With heightened senses and awareness while in this state of mind, every detail and nuance is recorded in the brain. When a traumatic or stressful event occurs, the memory is then deeply embedded in the memory functions of the brain. As a result, PTSD sufferers have trouble forgetting even the most minute details of the traumatic event(s). Individuals may relive the occurrence again and again, as though it were happening today, and with each “re-living,” they re-experience the emotions and stressors that were present at the time of the traumatic event. Unfortunately, many individuals go into combat unprepared for what they will see and experience. War veterans face unique hurdles in overcoming this disorder. However, with professional assistance, it is possible for traumatized war veterans to eventually get beyond their PTSD and, in many instances, move on and attain relatively productive and fulfilling lives.
About the Author:
Known for his work in the area of posttraumatic stress, Mervin Smucker has contributed to the implementation of a range of clinical techniques, including imagery rescripting, to assist individuals who are attempting to cope with and process past traumas. For over 30 years, Dr. Smucker has been a trainer, clinician, instructor, and consultant. Mervin Smucker has also conducted research on other disorders, and has published much of his research in numerous national and international medical journals.