Although war might seem like a distant event taking place overseas, the effects of war reach beyond the front lines affecting citizens alongside soldiers. Within our own country, war enters the home long after ceasefire in the case of PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the work, The Impact of War on Mental Health author Evan D. Kanter notes that the concept of PTSD arose in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. But only recently has the medical and public health community permanently recognized the long-term mental health effects of war. Then in 1980, PTSD was formally entered in the lexicon.
Most of the associations that have been made with PTSD occur between Troops and live combat. But PTSD has also been associated with sexual assault within the military. Especially with female soldiers. Kanter notes that up to 30% of female military veterans reported rape during their time in military service. And because sexual assault within the military is most often kept in secrecy, victims experience aggravated psychological symptoms. Although the first step in treatment is educating victims and their families on PTSD so that no one is alone and bewildered by the experience, these crimes against women in the military need not to be kept in secret. Female soldiers should not have to worry about the attacks they may incur from comrades while serving in the military.
Family members are affected alongside their veterans suffering from PTSD and although the treatment is available, not nearly enough military personnel seek treatment for their symptoms. But how can we reach our veterans? Like much of the difficulties explored within the intersections of media, gender and race – reaching out for help doesn’t necessarily come so easy. One must have the capabilities to do so. And when recovering from the traumas of war, it might not be so simple to come forward. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers treatment, but more importantly, the individual needs to recognize the symptoms. And the military must provide a safe space where Veterans can come forward.