What are PTSD Stressors?
A few months back I received a phone call from a Veteran who wanted to file for PTSD. He served from 1988-1990 and never left the country. Due to the fact that he had not served in combat, I decided to, like I would for any non-combat Veteran, ask him to verify his stressor. For those who don’t know, a stressor is something that makes you worried or anxious: a source of stress. In combat there are numerous valid stressors. In non-combat situations there are a lot too. However, what this Veteran claimed to be his stressor left me speechless. He instructed me that his drill instructor yelled at him in boot camp.
Readers of this blog know that I am not a Veteran, nor have I served in the military at any time in my life. However, I am pretty sure that if I ever stepped foot on a military base someone would be yelling at me within seconds. I am sure even as a civilian this would occur as I tend to get distracted easily. I’ve seen movies like “Jarhead,” -it's actually my favorite all time movie. I even have the poster framed on my wall-I know nobody is going to welcome me to a military base with a muffin basket and an embossed schedule of activities. I assumed most people knew this heading into boot camp, but this gentleman was not aware. Also, “Full Metal Jacket” was released the year prior to him joining…that should have been a heads up for him that it was not going to be the most pleasant experience in his life.
I did not dismiss his claim right away. I asked if he was subject to any ridicule based on his race or even subject to unfair punishment, and everything checked out fine. I asked if he had any other claims from his time in service and he said no. Sadly I could not take him on as a client, and wished him the best. He was a nice gentlemen, just didn’t do his research before joining the military.
Stressors are an interesting subject. His story reminded about how important they are for PTSD claims. Earlier I mentioned that there are a lot of valid non-combat stressors. For instance, one we see a lot in Veterans who stayed in country is Military Sexual Trauma. This stressor is very valid. I’ve also spoken to many Veterans who were subject to regular assaults by fellow soldiers, and this too can be a valid stressor. Even things from your civilian life that occur while serving can possibly be valid stressors.
When it comes to combat Veterans, stressors need not to be verified. The VA assumes that being in combat is your stressor. This was not always the case though. In fact, until a few years ago, combat Veterans had to verify stressors. A mental health study examined issues that caused distress in Marines who served in Iraq. A stunning 87% of the Marines stated that the stressor was “knowing someone who was killed.” Other incidents include being shot at, being ambushed, and seeing dead bodies. Numbers for all of these are very high among Soldiers and Marines. With that in mind, it makes sense that combat Veterans no longer need to verify a stressor.
(I know I had some fun earlier, but PTSD is something we take seriously. Most of the time when a Veteran describes their stressor I am left speechless for other reasons. I get reminded everyday why we should all be grateful to the men and women who protect us, even the ones who stay here. It was refreshing to hear a somewhat comical one though.)
Overall, no two Veterans will have the same experience in the military. If you believe that you are suffering from PTSD, or if you have questions about a stressor, give me a call for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457. You can also fill out this form and request to be contacted. While online, request a free copy of our VA Disability Guide.