If there's one thing in this world there's not enough of, it's empathy. But by working to understand each other's experiences, we can more easily provide help and love, when needed.
To help us empathize with those who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a mental health issue that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault — those at the David Lynch Foundation created a video in April called "Sounds of Trauma."
The video helps the friends and family of veterans better understand what it is like living as a civilian with PTSD after combat, and shows us the typical footage and sounds of war. However, the viewer soon discovers the sounds they are hearing are not from combat, but from everyday occurrences, such as a clock alarm, or a child popping a balloon.
The point of the video rings loud and clear: that commonplace sounds can bring a veteran right back to the battlefield.
Seeing a video like this is especially important given that 8 percent of the U.S. population, at any given moment, experiences PTSD. That number increases significantly for veterans, who often face rejection by their military peers, are removed from combat zones, or sometimes discharged from military service. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, as many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans, 11 percent of Afghanistan veterans, and 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans. Veterans diagnosed with PTSD may experience problems sleeping, maintaining relationships, and returning to their previous civilian lives.
The issue is so widespread, that the Department of Veterans Affairs has a National Center for PTSD.
These facts are astounding, but reading them versus truly understanding the day-to-day impact PTSD can have on the lives of our veterans are two different things. For that reason, the video above can have a profound effect on people who struggle to understand why helping these people, and providing plenty of resources for them, is so important.
The David Lynch Foundation offers such resources to veterans by partnering with leading veteran service organizations to create 'resilient warriors' with their Operation Warrior Wellness (OWW) program, which began in 2010. Through this program, the Foundation trains veterans to practice Trancendental Meditation, a type of meditation that has been found to create a 40 to 55 percent reduction in symptoms of PTSD and depression, a 42 percent decrease in insomnia, and a 30 precent improvement in satisfaction with quality of life, among other things.
With resources like this, and a little more empathy, we can all work toward making the lives of people with PTSD easier.
Cover image via John Gomez I Shutterstock
(H/T: American Military News)