A common rumor with PTSD is that it is somehow reserved for the military community. I even hear this among First Responders, such as EMTs, police, firefighters, and emergency dispatchers - even though our First Responders are on the front lines here at home every day.
Many of my fellow Veterans are drawn to continue their service as a First Responder in their community, or as in active federal service, or in federal Law Enforcement. I want to take a minute to dispel some myths and give you some real talk about PTSD in our First Responder and LEO community.
Many civilians believe that only military members can suffer from PTSD, and, within the ranks, many Service Members believe that only ops folks or combat Veterans can have PTSD. Very often, I hear clients say something to the effect of, “I don’t ‘deserve’ to have PTSD.”
Let's start off by saying: that is not a thing; that is fundamentally not how PTSD works. You don’t have to be a trigger-pulling, pipe-hitting mother-trucker for PTSD to whoop your ass (although you certainly can be).
Then there’s the idea that PTSD is reserved for those who have “earned it” or somehow "deserve it." Let’s have some real talk: I don’t deserve to have the flu. I’m a really nice person and good looking. But flu doesn’t give a shit about that. No one deserves to have malaria or HIV or schizophrenia, but we don’t get a choice. PTSD is same-same.
PTSD can develop in anyone after experiencing a trauma. Trauma is defined as, "actual or threatened exposure to death, serious injury, or sexual violence." That is a pretty big umbrella. According to research, over 80% of First Responders report experiencing traumatic events on the job, and it is estimated that 10–15% have been diagnosed with PTSD. Because these are self-report measures, I am going to guess that these numbers are low simply because the rumors about PTSD are so powerful.
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