In this day and age, news is instant. The fat guy picking his nose on the corner could tweet the next big story. With this being the case, I don't understand why the major media outlets continue the archaic practice of needing to break a story first. With how fast word spreads, does it really matter if you were the ones who started the broadcast a half second before your competitor? The major media outlets used to stand by the veracity of what they were reporting whereas the smut and trash recanted on stories or changed the information mid stream. Now that's par for the course. When did this become OK?
Well, Mass Media, SHAME ON YOU. Thanks to your irresponsible reporting of the Afghani Murder Spree by an American soldier, we service members with PTSD have to start over. For the past eight to ten years, PTSD advocacy had been making great strides in breaking a stereotype. A stereotype that soldiers with PTSD were dangerous to others. We are, in fact, not going to go 'First Blood' on anyone. The numbers and statistics show that if we are at risk of killing anyone, it's not other people. So when you negative press whores smell the idea that SSG. Bales may have PTSD, what's the headline? "Afghanistan Shooting Suspect: Rampage May Have Been Caused By PTSD" Now that headline may not be literally what any of you said, but the implication was there and all of the advocacy groups are scrambling to recover from this gut blow.
So here's what I propose: An apology to the thousands of service members with PTSD (like me) for setting back pubic awareness and PTSD education a decade. I want to see a return to responsible journalism where getting the story right was more important than getting to the story first. I want to see stories on every station about how PTSD has been overcome by folks like me.
I know that there is a huge scandal right now with the large percentage of folks that got their PTSD assessments overturned on the base that SSG. Bales hails from. What hasn't been made is a connection between the two. What would have been responsible journalism is as follows:
"It appears that a large percentage of service members had PTSD assessments were overturned at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. While SSG. Bales was stationed at this base before his deployment, this investigation into PTSD assessments does not appear to have any connection to or bearing on SSG. Bales' state of mind at the time of the incident."
Did you catch the nuance? Did you? The way it's hypothetically reported above, discounts PTSD as a cause for the crimes committed and shoots down the idea that folks with PTSD are dangerous. So what happens if it becomes evident that he had an active duty PTSD assessment overturned by suits looking to fill deployment numbers? Then he becomes a victim of a system that didn't protect him or the others around him. If you send someone with PTSD back into the environment that caused the PTSD in the first place, a person could go off the deep end, true. But if that person was known to have PTSD and if put in this situation could become a danger to himself and others, the folks who overturned his PTSD assessment should be the ones on trial for mass murder, for not protecting a service member with a disability.
OK, I've said my piece. What's done is done. I can't change that people are going to look at me and check for a weapon if I say the word PTSD. What I can do is shout loud and clear to all of my brothers and sisters out there who have to suffer this stigma, Stay Strong! We are all proud of you and we know and understand the truth. Never back away of who you are: A PTSD SURVIVOR!
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.