Can PTSD Be Prevented Through Education?
By Sergeant Major David K. Devaney, U.S. Marine Corps
Almost all combat troops develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or combat stress after continuous fighting, but most recover—especially if they make use of pre-combat psychological education programs. Having spent the past seven-plus years assisting psychologists, military commanders, and combat veterans with PTSD-associated issues, I hope now to assist in the prevention of PTSD through education. My book Surviving Combat: Mentally and Physically (Twentynine Palms, CA: U.S. Marine Corps, 2007) is the basis of four-hour pre-combat seminars. The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as a severe anxiety reaction to a traumatic event such as rape or war. Those who suffer from it repeatedly relive the event, avoid stimuli associated with the trauma, and experience symptoms such as difficulty sleeping and irritability. Typically these reactions develop shortly after the event, but may take years and last at least one month.