Knoxville veterans may suffer PTSD after combat

Memorial Day will be here in less than a month, and for most people in Knoxville it simply means a day off of work, parades, picnics or barbecues and the official kickoff to summer. However, it is important to remember the true meaning of the holiday: remembering those who have died in service to our country.

Of course, it is important to also recognize that many service members bravely fought for the United States and returned home as heroes. War can take its toll on a person’s mental and physical health. One illness that may initially go undetected, but in actuality is very serious, is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is an anxiety disorder. A person may develop PTSD after going through an extremely traumatic event, such as combat in war. Some symptoms of PTSD include feeling distant from loved ones, hypervigilance, having nightmares and reliving the traumatic event.

It is estimated that 30 percent of Vietnam veterans, 15 percent of veterans from the most recent combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 10 percent of Gulf War veterans suffer from PTSD. Veterans who go through a traumatic event may at first feel afraid, confused or angry. For some veterans, these feelings will subside with time. However, for those with PTSD, these feelings do not go away or may even get worse. PTSD can interfere with a veteran’s relationships with loved ones, as well as affecting his or her ability to hold a job.

In some cases, PTSD can get so bad that it becomes a disability. Should a veteran’s PTSD prevent him or her from being gainfully employed for a year or more, he or she might want to consider seeking Social Security disability benefits. While the Social Security Administration does not specifically include PTSD in its listing of impairments, it does list anxiety disorders in general as a disabling condition. To determine whether a veteran’s PTSD falls under this category and whether the veteran can pursue SSD benefits, he or she may need to seek legal advice.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “War Related Illness and Injury Study Center,” accessed May 2, 2016