first published on April 5, 2017 by Josh
I first heard about post-traumatic growth while watching a video of the Secretary of Defense James Mattis. He is speaking at a dinner, and cautioning civilians and veterans alike to avoid the PTSD labeling trap, and the victim mindset. The phrase he offered is post-traumatic growth (PTG), I had never heard it before, but it made perfect sense. The UNC Charlotte Post Traumatic Growth research group defines PTG as “positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event.” A pointed and thorough evaluation of post trauma positive changes could be the push needed to alter the stigma surrounding combat, and the people who take part in it.
I can give a personal account of dozens of individuals whose character has been changed in a positive manner by their traumatic experiences. The issue is that no one is really talking about this; popular opinion is in a lock step march towards veteran’s ill mental health and victimization. There is little acknowledgement of the veterans who now care more for those around them, or who happily defies the stereotype with every happy and successful step they take. There is a very real, spiritual, and tangible change that takes place within us. We have changed for the better, and we can now feel more, not less. Post-traumatic growth is the explanation for the veterans that can’t be forced in to the PTSD mold.
Anyone who served in the military is well aware of the old adage of “ten percent of your force will take up ninety percent of your time,” and that is certainly still true today. Now these ten percent are mistakenly representing the whole. We do ourselves a disservice if we allow our community to be defined by PTSD. There is far more to the veteran community than sadness and failure to adapt. If PTG were to gain half of the recognition of PTSD, it would be a monumental victory for the veteran community. Who knows, maybe its recognition would be a catalyst for many who struggle to recognize their own positive changes. PTG is the best possible explanation for the strength and resolve of this community, and it deserves its day in the sun.