President Bush wants the D out of PTSD

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ABC Entertainment News | ABC Business News

Posted by Bill McKenzie on February 20, 2014

The central question going forward from yesterday’s summit on veterans issues at the Bush Institute is this: How do we get to the point in our society that veterans with post-traumatic stress are not treated as damaged goods?

President Bush spoke to this issue in his opening address, when he emphasized that PTS is a condition like diabetes. Treatments exist for PTS, he said, just like they do for diabetes. And employers don’t turn away from a future employee simply because they have diabetes.

Martha Raddatz of ABC News moderated the half-day session, and she picked up on the fact that the president didn’t use the term post-traumatic stress disorder. Rather, he said “post-traumatic stress.” The difference is  important, as she noted. “It is big for a president to no longer say PTSD. It is PTS.”

The difference matters because it gets to the heart of whether someone has a condition that stops them from holding down a job or going to school. A disorder may stop an employer from hiring a veteran who has suffered a trauma for fear of them breaking down on the job. But if this is not a disorder, employers are more likely to look at a veteran who has endured a war-time trauma as they would another possible employee with their own issues. Trauma, after all, is not related to military service.

Of course, there is much still to learn about PTS. General Peter Chiarelli, the retired former vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army, told the audience that his three priorities are:

  1. Better understanding  PTS;
  2. Determining whether someone actually suffers from PTS; and
  3. Discovering the best ways to treat soldiers with PTS

Interestingly, Chiarelli said that veterans are tested for PTS with a list of 20 questions. That sure seems like a quick in-and-out, which is perhaps why Chiarelli said he was interested in finding a way to diagnose the condition beyond a list of 20 questions.


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