Letter to the Editor: End Stigma Against PTSD Among our Soldiers and Veterans

The New York Times

January 14, 2009 – Re “Purple Heart Is Ruled Out for Traumatic Stress” (front page, Jan. 8):

The Pentagon’s decision to not consider soldiers with disabling battle-inflicted stress disorders for the Purple Heart needs rethinking.

Surely every soldier in good standing deserves the right to at least be considered for special honors. Many of these men and women have shown extraordinary courage and sacrifice on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Many have returned home after multiple tours of duty to confront a severe shortage of treatment programs for their disabling symptoms of stress. That suicide has become the only escape for thousands is a national disgrace.

The filmmaker Dan E. Weisburd has used the phrase “another kind of valor” to describe the men and women in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts whose lives have been derailed by traumatic stress.

The public needs more understanding of the seriousness and dangers of these disorders. It is discouraging that the Pentagon has not recognized this need.

The Purple Heart ruling seems intended to discriminate against the 300,000 or more service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and to stigmatize them with dismissive references to their battle-acquired disabilities.

Jean Arnold
Co-founder and Chairwoman
National Stigma Clearinghouse
New York, Jan. 8, 2009

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