PTSD or PTS? What’s in one word?

by AV Staff

For over a decade, the US military has coined the anxiety, anger, and depression service members face when they return home as PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a clinically-diagnosed condition that many veterans and service members suffer from. But over the last few years, many VSOs and Pentagon officials have launched a campaign to effectively kill the “disorder” from PTSD, giving it the shortened term, Post Traumatic Stress or PTS. Some veterans have welcomed this change in recent years, but the term has yet to stick around the world. The ongoing battle between “PTSD” and “PTS” continues among those who are affected by it, those who make the laws, and those who treat it.

“This is a normal reaction to a very serious set of events in their life,” Lieut. General Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, recounted of PTSD back in 2008. After some questioning from journalists, his composure changed and he said, “Maybe we’re not as sensitive as we might be to communicating things like disorder and the like.” He later spoke that he would address this change with his colleagues.

Since then, some conversations have appeared to happen at the executive level. Over the years, the military has attempted to reduce the use of “disorder” when addressing those diagnosed with PTS. Newly omitted flyers and brochures are more often seen at the patient level and during patient education at some facilities, but this can be confusing for patients until an actual determination is made. A 2011 article in Time Magazine stated that “Military mental-health workers constantly try to reduce the stigma associated with mental-health ills, and one way to do that is to not term the problem a disorder.” Continuing to battle over the “D” in PTSD still keeps those who suffer in limbo between both terms.

Many veterans agree that the change in the name reduces some of the negative energy surround the name PTSD, while others think that is a way to minimize their struggles by downgrading PTSD to just a syndrome and not a disorder. Some healthcare officials have considered this “downgrade” with the argument that PTSD is less of an illness and more of a natural reaction to a bad situation. One veteran took to VA’s official Facebook page to voice his concerns in 2015 when he said, “If my PTSD is not a disorder, what’s to stop the VA from taking away my healthcare?” Although the answer is still to be determined, VA continues to operate the National Center for PTSD, still opting to keep the “D” in PTSD, for now.