Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could face a more critical type of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of multiple deployments, and one noted psychiatrist and specialist on PTSD fears an increase of sufferers among today’s veterans.
Dr. Harry Croft literally wrote the book on PTSD among veterans. In his book titled, “I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall,” Croft outlines a seven-step program to recover from PTSD.
Croft said combat veterans returning from Vietnam and World War Two generally had only one deployment. Today’s military members endure multiple deployments over several years, and PTSD cases may become more frequent. Croft adds that shortened leaves between deployments only serve to exacerbate the disorder.
"Time at home between deployments is called 'dwell time.' And it should be that your dwell time is twice as long as your combat-related deployment time. But in many instances, dwell time is less than half as long," Croft said.
Croft estimates 20 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. It’s not only “combat” veterans who are traumatized; those whose jobs bring them close to the conflict suffer as well.
"I've seen veterans who were cooks, who've never held a gun in a combat situation. But they say, 'You know, doc, those IEDs and mortars that came in blew up right next to the cooking tent," Croft said.
Croft says he has evaluated more than 7,000 veterans, many of whom have PTSD. He said when he was treating soldiers after Vietnam, no one knew about PTSD, and there really was no treatment. Now, the medical community understands more about the disorder and has a practical toolkit for recovery. Croft will share his method for coping with PTSD at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Main Library downtown.