Next week is the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, the largest yearly gathering of its kind. It’s exciting because of the prominence military matters are going to get. Last year there were perhaps 15 military-related sessions at the meeting in Hawaii. This year, there’s going to be twice as many dedicated to military mental health issues.
As you might expect, there will be a lot of focus on diagnosing and treating PTSD. But there are also sessions on what it is like to work as a civilian at a military base, personal reflections of psychiatrists who have worked in war zones, research on the long-term effects of combat exposure from the experts at the Rand Corp., and a symposium on complementary and alternative treatments, including acupuncture and the use of therapy dogs (yes, my pet subject).
Retired Army general Peter Chiarelli, who served as the Army’s No. 2 officer until January, will be part of a discussion on whether PTSD should be re-labeled post-traumatic stress injury or just post-traumatic stress. It’s a debate on nomenclature that has been going on for at least 100 years. Remember shell shock, battle fatigue and combat stress reactions?
I know most readers will not be attending. But I wanted to alert folks that the APA is really putting their best foot—or paw– forward on this subject.
Full disclosure: I have helped put the military sessions together, but gain nothing financially from it. But I do gain emotionally from knowing that the civilian psychiatrists are engaged in the struggle to take care of our military members and veterans. As I have said many times before, it is not just a military or Veterans Affairs issue, it is a national one.