Sunday, June 22, 2014

National PTSD Awareness Day - June 27th

Starting in 2010, Congress named June 27th PTSD Awareness Day (S. Res. 455). Since then, the month of June has been devoted to raising PTSD awareness. In studies comparing the experiences of returning POWs from various conflicts, it has been found that the POWs of Japan have suffered the most severe and most lasting effects of PSTD of any POW group. These findings indicate that PTSD has been a persistent, normative, and primary consequence of exposure to the severe trauma endured by the POWs of Japan.

Among the number of events around the USA focusing on PTSD on the 27th, is one sponsored by The Library of Congress Veterans History Project at Noon on the causes, effects and alternative treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among military veterans with Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Karen Lynn Fears; Richard Tedeschi, professor, licensed psychologist and author who specializes in bereavement and trauma; Gala True, core investigator at Philadelphia Veterans Affairs and research assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; and David "Kelly" Williams, retired Navy Hospital corpsman and the Veterans Employment Program manager for the HHS Department. (click the link for more information)

National Center for PTSD homepageIn 1989, the National Center for PTSD was established by the Veterans Administration for research and education on the prevention, understanding, and treatment of PTSD. The Center has developed The PTSD Coach smartphone application (app), launched in April 2011 by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), has already helped more than 5,000 users connect with important mental health information and resources.

On Friday, June 20th, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies released a report on the Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Military and Veteran Populations: Final Assessment.  As the New York Times editorializes in The Heavy Burden of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, "What is needed, the institute’s report says, is a better integrated approach and the collection of data to document which practices and treatments work best and how patients progress over the years. Those who have suffered mental trauma on the battlefield deserve the best care the nation can provide."

There were 14 POW camps on Japan's colony of Formosa. Each was more hellacious than the next. In the video above, a Canadian researcher who edits Never Forgotten, a website on Japan's POW camps on Taiwan, tries to describe the PTSD experiences of the men he has interviewed. As he notes, there was no word, nor in-depth understanding at the time of traumas caused by Japan's brutal incarceration and work-to-the-death labor of the POWs.

The National Center for PTSD also maintains the easy to use Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress (PILOTS) Database that is an electronic index to the worldwide literature on PTSD and other mental health consequences of exposure to traumatic events.

Below are three papers accessed from the database that are of immediate interest to those interested in the POWs of Japan experience.

Follow-up studies of World War II and Korean War Prisoners: II. Morbidity, disability, and maladjustment (1976)
Sequelae of the POW experience are both somatic and psychiatric, and are of greatest extent and severity among Pacific World War II POW's.
Effects of paternal exposure to prolonged stress on the mental health of the spouse and children: families of Canadian Army survivors of the Japanese World War II camps (1976)
If a member of a survivor's family is affected it is likely to be the oldest child, provided it is a female. She will probably manifest depressive affects and other symptoms. 
Posttraumatic stress disorder in a community group of former prisoners of war: a normative response to severe trauma (1997)
The most severely traumatized group (POWs held by the Japanese) had PTSD lifetime rates of 84% and current rates of 59%.

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