Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is generally associated with troops who’ve just returned from service in a war zone. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that PTSD operates to its own schedule and retirement is one of its favored points of attack.
This trend is being seen now with large numbers of Vietnam vets hitting retirement age. After leaving the military, many of these former combatants threw themselves into new careers – filling their lives and their minds with work. This was their diversion, their way of not thinking about what they’d seen and experienced in battle.
But with retirement comes spare time. Time to think and remember. And often, it’s like opening a door to PTSD.
Take, for example, Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Samuel M. Rhodes Sr., who is these days one of the leading PTSD activists. “When I left the army, I lost the sense of belonging to something I had done for 29 years,” says Rhodes. “I went into a tailspin that left me empty and I even considered suicide at the time.”
Rhodes, and many like him, had to find the courage, not to grit their teeth and “bear it,” but to speak out and seek help. And every victim of PTSD who does this soon learns that they are not alone.
Screening for PTSD is a good idea at any stage of your military career, and it can be done completely anonymously and free of charge. A quick, online self-assessment can give you an idea of whether you may need to reach out for help. And those first few steps can make all the difference in winning the fight against PTSD and reclaiming your life.
Adrian Zupp is the marketing writer at Screening for Mental Health.