HB 2595 ‘Veterans and PTSD’
PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat or sexual assault. It's normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months. If it's been longer than a few months and you’re still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.
"I am very dedicated to helping military members who have mental illness because of their service to our nation. We know that psychological and medical help is the real answer as opposed to incarceration. It can be done through VA and cost the state and its citizens nothing, compared to full time incarceration,” said Maj Gen (ret) Rita Aragon.
When you are in the military, you may see combat. You may have been on missions that exposed you to horrible and life-threatening experiences. You may have been shot at, seen a buddy get shot, or seen death. These types of events can lead to PTSD.
Other factors in a combat situation can add more stress to an already stressful situation. This may contribute to PTSD and other mental health problems. These factors include what you do in the war, the politics around the war, where the war is fought, and the type of enemy you face. Another cause of PTSD in the military can be military sexual trauma (MST). This is any sexual harassment or sexual assault that occurs while you are in the military. MST can happen to both men and women and can occur during peacetime, training, or war.
The number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service era:
- Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
- Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year.
- Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15%) were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
- 23 out of 100 women (or 23%) reported sexual assault when in the military.
- 55 out of 100 women (or 55%) and 38 out of 100 men (or 38%) have experienced sexual harassment when in the military.
“This legislation is neither Democratic nor Republican, just something positive for veterans. We train men and women to defend our nation in combat and then we expect, upon their return to civilian life, the trauma experienced by these individuals to be erased from their psyche. That is an unreasonable and unfair expectation. I want to thank Sen. Simpson for his Senate authorship, “ said Rep. Richard Morrissette.
Currently, in Oklahoma there are only two PTSD diversion programs for veteran defendants, one based in Oklahoma County and one in Tulsa County. Combat exposure and other trauma in non-combat situations, such as sexual assault, often result in the condition of PTSD among Oklahoma veterans.
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