Non-Combat Military PTSD

In conversations that I have had with people in the last few months that were not with family or friends, the moment PTSD is mentioned I get two questions.

1. Weren’t you in the Navy? I didn’t know the Navy saw combat.
2. How can you have PTSD when you didn’t see combat?

Personally, I find these assumptions aggravating. You don’t need to see combat to be diagnosed with PTSD. Too many people are of the notion that non-combat Veterans in the military or in my case the Navy can’t PTSD let alone have it service connected. If for any reason this were what you think, I want it to be known that a non-combat Veteran can get service connected for PTSD. Not only am I walking proof, I can direct you to many people in the same situation as I am.

It’s obvious that PTSD is the mainstream. With stories airing everywhere from your local media to social media, PTSD is getting coverage. However, the general public only sees PTSD as a result of being in a war zone. This is far from the truth. While many Veterans with PTSD served in combat, not all served. Also, not anybody that serves in combat has PTSD. It may sound scary, but every case is different. Civilians can have PTSD. Simply defined, PTSD can occur as a result of witnessing a traumatic event.

Here are Common examples of Non-Combat PTSD Stressor

Non-combat related vehicle accidents are very common when it comes to PTSD claims. Regardless if accidents happened on base, or when a Veteran was on leave, it may be a stressor for PTSD. I would like to clarify the accident for PTSD claim. The common accident like “fender bender” will not be a good stressor for a PTSD claim. Moreover, a serious accident in which people were paralyzed as a result of threatening injuries or witness death as a result of the accident would be a better example of how an accident can cause PTSD.

Physical Assault:
Something I have observed often in non-combat related PTSD claims are Veterans who were engaged in some form of physical, non-sexual assault. The claimants are always male veterans. Traditionally it is a superior officer who is bullying a lower ranking individual or an assault by the same lower ranking person.

Death of a fellow soldier:
It is well-known that suicide is one of the biggest problems confronting our nation’s military recently. I’ve heard many Veterans saying that they have seen another soldier commit suicide. This is clearly traumatic. But this does not only apply to suicide. I have been told by many great Veterans about people who were killed while in boot camp or during training exercises.

Diminished responsiveness to the outside world:
It is referred to as psychic mental or emotional anesthesia, typically starts from the traumatic event. An individual may complain of feeling detached or estranged from others, he or she lost the capacity to be interested in formerly enjoyed major activities, or the ability to feel emotions of most types, especially those related with tenderness.

Some symptoms of PTSD in Military Veterans

After returning from deployment, PTSD symptoms sometimes don’t show for months or even While PTSD varies from veteran to veteran, there are four symptom clusters:

➢ Intrusive, recurrent reminders of the traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, and distressing thoughts where you are feeling like it is reoccurring. Encountering extreme emotional and physical reactions to reminders of the trauma (uncontrolled shaking, heart palpitations, panic attacks, etc.).

➢ Absolute avoidance of things that remind you of the traumatic event, including places, people, ideas or situations you associate with all the terrible memories. Not relating to family and friends and losing interest in regular activities.

➢ Negative changes in ideas and mood, for example, constant feeling of shame, remorse or anxiety or exaggerated negative beliefs about yourself or the world, a decreased ability to have positive feeling and emotions from others.

➢ Being on guard constantly, emotionally reactive and jumpy, as indicated by angry outbursts, irritability, reckless behavior, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, exaggerated start response and hypervigilance.

Some ways deal with Non-combat Military PSTD

Regular Exercise
Obtaining frequent exercise happens to be essential for military or navy veterans with PTSD. In addition, to burn off adrenaline, exercise may release hormones and make you feel much better, both psychologically and physically. Nevertheless, a recent study shows that concentrating on the body and how it seems while you exercise; helps your nervous system move-out of the immobilization stress-response and “unstuck”.

Calm Your Nervous System Down
Just as certain smells, loud noises, or the feel of sand in your clothes can instantly take you back to the trauma of a non- combat zone, so too can sights, smells, sounds, and other sensory input quickly calm you down. The important thing is to discover the sensory input that works for you.
Recall to your time of deployment: what makes you comfort at the end of the day? Maybe, it was taking a look at your family pictures or it was the flavor of chocolate in a care package from home, or listening to a popular song, or smelling a certain brand of cologne or soap.

Social Interaction
Interacting with someone who cares about you is a good method to calm your nervous system. For any military or navy veteran with PTSD, it’s important to find someone you can relate with face to face—someone you can talk to for a long period, someone who will listen to you without criticizing, judging, or being distracted by people or the phone. That person may be your spouse, a relative, one of your pals in the service, or a civilian buddy.

Look after your body
The outward symptoms of PTSD could be hard on the body, therefore, it’s very important to place priority on exercise, sleep, relaxing activities and healthy food.
You might find it very hard to relax in the beginning. It’s a common behavior for military veterans to become attracted to actions that speed up adrenaline after being in a non-combat area.
Deal with flashbacks, Nightmares and negative thoughts
Flashbacks typically involve auditory and visual memories of non-combat trauma you experienced. It feels like it is happening all over again so it is essential that you accept and assure yourself that your traumatic experience will not occur in future.
One successful technique would be to say to yourself (either out loud or in your head) that while you are feeling like the experience is occurring, it is possible to look about and understand that you are safe.

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