PTSD: Fighting Stigma with Name Change to Combat Injury?

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Sean Stevenson takes a knee while on a security patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, June 6, 2011.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathan McCord)

Military officials believe they  can fight the stigma of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with a name change – dropping the term “disorder” – and instead linking the condition to “combat”. The Houston Chronicle reported Sunday that the American Psychiatric Association is considering the proposal.

The president of the American Psychiatric Association says he is “very open” to a request from the Army to come up with an alternative name for post-traumatic stress disorder so that troops returning from combat will feel less stigmatized and more encouraged to seek treatment.

Dr. John Oldham, who serves as senior vice president and chief of staff at the Houston-based Menninger Clinic, said he is looking into the possibility of updating the association’s diagnostic manual with a new subcategory for PTSD. The subcategory could be “combat post-traumatic stress injury,” or a similar term, he said.

“It would link it clearly to the impact and the injury of the combat situation and the deployment experience, rather than what people somewhat inaccurately but often assume, which is that you got it because you weren’t strong enough,” Oldham said.

The potential change was prompted by a request from Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, who wrote to Oldham last year, suggesting APA drop the world “disorder” from PTSD.

“Calling it a disorder contributes to the stigma and makes it so some folks – not all, but some folks – don’t get the help they need,” Chiarelli said.

You can read the full article HERE.

6 Responses

  1. This may be a way, also if the problem, objectively remain and also if people may consider stigma the problem on itself. The right way may be esplicate that PTSD has not negative ripercussion on society, but only on affected warriors, that are combating a war hard and, apparently, without victory. Also people must understand that this war is due to a duty for serve them and they must not abandon warriors for the facts they have the consequences of war, but, remembering they was at home when warrior on war theatre, aid the warriors. Health problems are not a stigma, but world’s people has this mentality.
    A only consideration: a man is not perfect for a perfect physic, but for a mind and a heart that made him disposable to make sacrifices for others. I honor and thank you, buddies Claudio Alpaca

  2. I have written a post on this subject. The name is not the stigma, I believe. The military community does not look favorably in soldiers who can not fight because of mental issues. Soldiers fill out Annonymous questionnaires entirely different then when they pen their name to it.

    They do not want to admit weakness, suicidal thoughts, fear, terror, then uncontrollable trigger thoughts. Leaving the “D’ off at this late stage of epidemic exposure. Did you know that the peak incidence of PTSD for this war is 15 to 20 years away. PTSD does not explode for some until years later.

    There is a screening test for cortisol now in the morning at waking time and a half hour later. They can determine if your nervous system is vulnerable to getting PTSD. These recruits could be assigned to support instead of combat.

    Now that would make a big I pact. Let us start where we can prevent cases first.

    next let us train the men and women with mindfulness before deployment. Be pro active and the stigma of PTSD has to be changed and the ‘D” is not the answer.

    Nice blog and support for our service people. Thanks for your support.

  3. The general is onto something. He’s right that we aren’t getting clients in the door.
    How do other businesses handle that problem?

    Step 1. A little marketing research.
    I’ve done that. While monitoring a Facebook site called Military with PTSD, I came across an increase in spouses demanding change around the turn of the year. The exact same thing happened last year. So much so that the facilitators of the site retrieved an article they had written last year asking spouses to be more patient with their vets.
    How do we get otherwise honorable people to change behavior? We get them to make a promise or resolution. In other words, we use their integrity to get them in the door.

    Vets have to see the difference between those that get help and those that continue to allow themselves to suffer. They have to see where those two people end up.

    Step 2. I’ve come up with a commercial for the New Year resolution season when the will to make behavioral changes meets the need from spouses to see that change.
    We see a veteran always promising to go to the VA to ask about PTSD. Always promising and promising, “Yeah, sure I’ll go honey.” We then see a New Year’s Eve party, drinking and then an altercation. We then see our veteran in jail where we hear a narrator make a resolution to go to the VA. We fade to black and see the VA contact information. We fade back to our veteran as we see him hugging family and friends in his graduation cap and gown, everyone smiling and happy.

    There it is. A real effort to get troops in the door that has a better chance than, yet again, another name change.
    It isn’t a name that’s the primary problem, its the marketing.
    Before I could get soldiers to talk to me I had to sell myself by volunteering and going on as many missions as I could. In the end, the Buffalo Soldiers, 1-10 CAV, only wanted to speak to me out of my entire four man CSC Team, which included a psychologist and a social worker. They had to see for themselves what I was all about before they sent one of their own to talk to me. They had to see that I took this serious enough to risk my life for them. In the end it worked and I didn’t get killed.
    Marketing builds relationships. It says, look, we can help and here’s how. It says, its important that you get this help from us and here’s why. It says we are located here and this is how you benefit.
    We’re making this way more complicated than it needs to be.

  4. PTSD already has the post-traumatic in it. So instead of C-PTSD make it PCS, Post Combat Stress. For those who were not actually in combat but are still affected by it, call it PNCS, Post Non-Combat Stress. I agree with dropping Disorder from the name altogether. Just PTS seems to tell it like it is then sub-categorize from there if need be like my afore mentioned ideas, PCS and PNCS.

    In this I think less is more. Unfortunately I am not a government worker who thinks more is more and we can’t take away from, we need to add to it.

  5. […] Posts Come Face to Face with History: Tuskegee AirmenPTSD: Fighting Stigma with Name Change to Combat Injury?A Salute to Black Veterans, SaturdayDid Your Family Drink Camp Lejeune's Water?What I wish I had […]

  6. With or without the D, PTSD is a serious issue that people need to be made aware of. I found a great website ( that offers information about treatment for PTSD. Hope this is helpful.

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