Mental Health & The Armed Forces

kati morton
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First, I want to thank each and every member of our armed forces for giving of their times and possibly lives in order to keep us all safe and free. It’s because of their sacrifices that I am able to have this channel and walk around safely in my community.

Many soldiers are subjected to traumatizing situations (whether that be in battle or due to an assault by another officer) and left with no help for their debilitating PTSD. The entire mental health system within our armed services is lacking and I would even argue that it’s completely broken. 
I consulted with 3 different members of the armed forces as well as with a former Navy Sexual Assault Victim Advocate and here is what I found out about their mental health care system:
You are encouraged to seek mental health help and support, but if you are diagnosed with PTSD and any of your triggers are associated with the use of weapons you may not be able to ever carry a weapon or possibly do your job ever again. Meaning that by getting help, you could potentially lose your job and ability to serve your country. I say “may” and “potentially” because this all depends on what your job within the armed forces was, which branch you are part of, and where your PTSD comes from. Each branch has different rules and regulations. 
They do have resources available like the DOD self help line (that everyone is supposed to have on them at all times) and the SHARP representatives (or SAPR, the acronym is dependent on which part of the military you are in) those are the people who you report any rape, assault or harassment to. But as for basic mental health care, you are only psychologically assessed for duty when you are getting your initial background check and security clearance. Also your superior officer can request another be completed if they feel your mental health is deteriorating. 
But if we consider Peter Mims, he was displaying all sorts of signs prior to his breakdown and he got no assistance. He was pushed to his breaking point by his job, and no one even cared to help him. This also goes for those who have been sexually assaulted. 
The advocate that I spoke with shared that during her time with the Navy 15-20 formal reports of sexual assault were reported each and every month from males and females. This doesn’t account for all of the harassment, and assault that goes unreported. And it is believed that accounts from males are seriously underreported. 

Sadly, the waits are long, and worry of getting a diagnosis that will end a career keep people from reporting harmful events, and getting the help that they need. While each VA is going to be different, there just aren’t enough mental health professionals to go around, so waits are long, treatments are short, and many struggle to say how they are really feeling for fear that they will lose their jobs.

I don’t have a real answer for this issue, but I think it’s important that we talk about it, make people aware of it, and push for better treatment of our troops. They give their all so that we can be safe, the least we can do is care for them when they finally return home. We as a country give so much money each and every year to the military, I think we should be more specific about how that money is spent. We can do better.

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