PTSD Name Change? A Veteran Says “It’s the Marketing!”

Cheyenne Forsythe while serving as an Army mental health specialist.

Here’s a response to the general who asked for a change in the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to encourage more military members to seek help for PTSD symptoms. Cheyenne Forsythe is a blog contributor, a student veteran and a former Army Combat Stress Control Team member who served in Iraq in 2003 and survived two IED attacks.


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

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. Getting the Word Out

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.

Step 3. A Name Change vs. Credible Outreach

The name isn’t the primary problem, it’s 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.

Step 4. Marketing Can Build Relationships

Marketing 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.

One Response

  1. Maybe look at this stigma through the lens of the NFL. Ben Rothlesburger with the Pittsburg Steelers a couple of years ago missed a game because of an unseen injury, a possible concussion. Hines Ward took exception that Rothslesburger could play.

    When higher ups in the organization label players they feel not tuff enough to play hurt, a stigma exist no matter what name you change. If we not see a broken bone or it is obvious the injury a stigma label is hung around that players neck.

    That is where the stigma lies for our soldiers, feeling an obligation to their fellow soldiers and the military community. What are the ramifications with admitting you have PTSD, PTS or any mental condition that prevents you from performing your duties.

    Change the name and all this stigma still,exists.

    Make it safe and honorable to get help and fixed and soldiers will feel safe to seek help. Simple, support these men who,has risk their mental and physical lives for us.

    The symptoms for this disorder have not changed. The suicide thoughts, depression and tense fear are real to a soldier. Now you place his career in jeopardy for admitting he is mentally wounded, what will a name chnage do?

    PTSD is epeidemic now, we are working on manipulating words with generals and the APA.

    I would like to see the psychology brass to be pro active and help curb the spread of more PTSD first then institute some big measure to address the growing numbers.

    Soldiers are in the news committing suicide or killing people because trauma has robbed them of a normal life. This war has deployed these guys upwards of 7 times.

    Did you know that these multiple deployments has made the rate of PTSD incidence explode. We have we been at war for the last how many years.10.

    After ten years of war our feeble attempt at supporting our young men is drop disorder.

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