the face of PTSD
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New Documentary Seeks to End PTSD Stereotypes

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May 20, 2016
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The Face of PTSD

There is a stigma that surrounds post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is stigmatized by civilians. They don't understand the disorder and think that anyone with PTSD is a dangerous bomb just waiting to explode. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have had challenges integrating in to the civilian work world in part due to the perception of those veterans and the chance that they may have PTSD. In a 2013 USA Today article, Gregg Zoroya found that employers didn't even try to hide the fact that they are afraid of veterans. He found that,

Leading corporate hiring managers have told researchers they fear these veterans might fly into a rage or "go postal." As a consequence, veterans say they've seen blatant discrimination.

As if the stigma that civilians attach to PTSD isn't enough, the disorder is stigmatized within the military community as well. Those currently serving on active duty who are suffering are afraid to report their symptoms for fear of how their chain of command will react. The fear associated with reporting PTSD symptoms is not unfounded. Army officials confirmed to Military Times that 22,000 combat veterans have received less-than-honorable discharges from the Army since 2009. Many of these discharges are for minor infractions such as alcohol use or being late to formation. Things have gotten so bad for combat veterans receiving bad paper discharges that Congress has stepped up to act. Legislation proposed in March with bi-partisan support seeks to ensure that combat veterans are not being forced out of the military due to behaviors that result from PTSD or traumatic brain injury (TBI). It's taking an act of Congress to protect veterans with PTSD. It is no wonder people are afraid to report.One group of filmmakers have decided that enough is enough and they are going to do something about it. "The Face of PTSD" is a documentary currently in pre-production that seeks to end PTSD stereotypes. The film's director, Derek Brown, told Military Times that,

We believe that the mainstream media has chosen to go with stories that have shock value, rather than telling the stories of veterans who deal with the disorder but still lead highly productive lives.

The sensational media stories and bad command climate's in the military contribute to the stigma surrounding PTSD and have driven people suffering from the disorder to not report their symptons. They have instead chosen to suffer alone in silence rather than reach out for help in large part due to the stigma and negativity associated with PTSD. The National Academies Institute of Medicine reports that nearly half of the veterans diagnosed with PTSD are not treated.Combat veteran and PTSD survivor Colin Wayne Erwin agrees that something has to be done. He will be telling his story of the 2012 rocket attack in Iraq that severely wounded him and left him with PTSD. Colin told American Grit magazine in an interview that,

Veterans should be able to talk about their problems and not feel like they are less of a man to do that.

The goal of "The Face of PTSD", according to Brown is,

to bring awareness to the causes of the stigma surrounding the disorder in order to promote a message of treatment rather than judgment.

"The Face of PTSD" is being produced by New Jersey-based Malka Media. They have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to help with production costs. The money will be used to interview veterans and experts around the country for the film. They want to show the world that despite suffering from PTSD, there are many who have been able to overcome the challenges they've faced to achieve incredible success.The stigma has got to change.

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