For Female Soldiers, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Is Very Real

I’ve been pretty fascinated by the New York Times’ series “Women at Arms,” about lady folk in the military. Yesterday’s front page story might have been the most interesting so far. It looks at the lives of women who’ve returned from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now dealing with the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Obviously, this affects dudes as well, but the article makes the argument that it can be even more severe for women, who feel such a disconnect between who they were before and after war that they isolate themselves from friends and family, sometimes for years. One woman in the story describes feeling paranoid of her kids. Another says she beats her husband in her sleep during especially intense combat dreams. Yet another woman reported wanting to jump over the counter and attack an Arab store clerk the other day, for no apparent reason. Experts at the newly formed Women’s Center at the VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida, explain that these are classic PTSD symptoms, but that women feel a whole ‘nother level of insane for having these thoughts because they are so typically “unfeminine.” And to add another layer to this story, these women feel ultra misunderstood because most people assume women in the military don’t see actual combat, when in truth many of them witnessed explosions and saw friends die. This year, more than 8,500 women have been diagnosed with PTSD, and those are only the ones who sought treatment through the VA. The VA expects that number to double over the next year. Anyway, read the whole article. And make sure to give it up for veterans, of both genders. [NY Times]