PTSD affects veterans jobs, recent shooting could make it worse

Posted at 9:39 PM, Apr 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-10 23:11:00-04

A local soldier says his PTSD is making it hard for him to get a job, and the recent Fort Hood shooting could make it worse.

Daniel Clemons is a marine medic who got home in 2012. Since then, he's moved from Houston to Waco to study at Baylor University. Clemons, though, says he has been diagnosed with PTSD. That comes up in job interviews, which he says immediately changes the tone of the interview.

"The second you bring up veteran or you bring up PTSD, especially if they end up in the same sentence, that is immediately the way they look at it, all of us are the same. I tell you I have PTSD I might have 10% disability because of PTSD, I might have 100%, but that doesn't mean just because I have whatever percent I have, [that] I'm going to have the same as this other guy here," Clemons said.

Clemons also says the recent shooting at Fort Hood and a national spotlight on PTSD won't help.

"So you're talking about putting something out there, taking the most negative thing about an experience and putting it out to 99% of people that don't understand or have the slightest clue of what it really is, but they hear this and they immediately associate it. That's it," Clemons said.

Clemons says most people just don't understand PTSD. He says he's also had trouble in social situations, especially at his higher education school.

The Texas Veterans Commission lists a number of facts concerning PTSD.

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD. About 10% of women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with 5% of men.

Who is most likely to develop PTSD?

Although most people who go through trauma will not get PTSD, you are more likely to develop PTSD if you:

  • Were directly exposed to the trauma as a victim or a witness
  • Were seriously hurt during the event
  • Went through a trauma that was long-lasting or very severe
  • Believed that you were in danger
  • Believed that a family member was in danger
  • Had a severe reaction during the event, such as crying, shaking, vomiting, or feeling apart from your surroundings
  • Felt helpless during the trauma and were not able to help yourself or a loved one

You are also more likely to develop PTSD if you:

  • Had an earlier life-threatening event or trauma, such as being abused as a child
  • Have another mental health problem
  • Have family members who have had mental health problems
  • Have little support from family and friends
  • Have recently lost a loved one, especially if it was not expected
  • Have had recent, stressful life changes
  • Drink a lot of alcohol
  • Are a woman
  • Are poorly educated
  • Are younger

PTSD and the Military

Experts think PTSD occurs:

  • In about 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom), or in the range of 11-20 Veterans out of 100 who served in OEF/OIF.
  • In as many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) Veterans, or in 10 Gulf War Veterans out of 100.
  • In about 30% of Vietnam Veterans, or about 30 out of 100 Vietnam Veterans.

Other factors in a combat situation can add more stress to an already stressful situation. This may contribute to PTSD and other mental health problems. These factors include what is done in the war, the politics around the war, where the war is fought, and the type of enemy that is faced.
Another cause of PTSD in the military can be military sexual trauma (MST). This is any sexual harassment or sexual assault that occurs while in the military. MST can happen to both men and women and can occur during peacetime, training, or war.

Among Veterans who use VA health care, about:

  • 23 out of 100 women (or 23%) reported sexual assault when in the military.
  • 55 out of 100 women (or 55%) and 38 out of 100 men (or 38%) have experienced sexual harassment when in the military