PTSD Stigma Still an Issue

The Real Warriors Campaign, launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, is a “multimedia public awareness initiative” to encourage “help-seeking behavior” among service members, veterans, and their families combating psychological health issues, said Lt. Col. Philip Holcombe, chief of clinical recommendations at the DCoE. The campaign, established in 2009, has created more than two dozen TV and radio public services announcements and videos addressing mental health, as well as community partnerships, mobile-friendly resources, and an interactive website. During a June 25 media roundtable, Holcombe said the campaign is addressing the stigma still associated with disorders, specifically PTSD. “There are barriers to care that can be internal,” he said. “Stigma is still an issue and likely will be for some time to come because it’s not just a military issue. It’s … an American culture issue.” Army Maj. Jeff Hall, discussing his experience with PTSD, said while the campaign was gaining traction, the stigma has had a greater resurgence due to the upcoming reduction in force. “I think that soldiers are actually a little bit more inclined to keep it close hold because … we don’t really know which way the reduction in force is going to go,” he said.