I Not D Letter to Congress by Charleise Heath

July 30, 2021

Dear Ma Deuce Deuce LLC;

My name is Charleise Heath. I live in Hope Mills, North Carolina and I am a girl scout. I have learned to be empowered to make the world a better place when I see something that needs to be changed by taking action. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (How Common is PTSD in Adults?, 2020), traumatic experiences and the resulting post-traumatic stress is not rare. Some statistics that quantify this are: 7 to 8 of every 100 people have PTSD some time in their life, 10 out of every 100 women and 4 of every 100 men develop PTSD in their life, while only a small amount of those who experience trauma develop PTSD that number is still over 8 million adults in a given year. Our current battle with Covid 19 will bring about a new battle when the trauma of Covid 19 has passed leaving living victims of post-traumatic stress symptoms that will interfere with their day-to-day functioning. This will only increase the suicide epidemic with the already estimated 22 veterans daily leaving us. 

While it may seem trivial to be concerned with something a small as one letter in an acronym, I propose to change the medical diagnosis from “PTSD” which stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to a more accurate “PTSI” for Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. 

To help explain why the “D” should be an “I”, I first want to share some definitions. The Mayo Clinic defines post-traumatic stress disorder as “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event” (Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 2018). Symptoms may not appear until years later. From the Health Writer Hub, I learned a disease results from a pathophysiological response to external or internal factors and a disorder results from a disease. A syndrome is a set of signs or symptoms that suggest a disease. A condition is an abnormal state of health that interferes with usual activities or feelings of well-being caused by a disease or diseases (Menon, 2019). Foster Law describes an injury as “a sudden or tangible happening of a traumatic nature with an immediate or prompt result” while a disease (and it’s resulting disorder) develops over time (What is the Difference Between an Industrial Injury and an Occupational Disease?, 2014). This indicates that the difference is indicated by “prompt results” as opposed to “develops over time”. However, repetitive injuries, although generally used concerning strains and motion, are caused by repetitive exposure to the event.

From these definitions, I contend that this occurrence is an injury, not a disease. It is caused by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Even though the definition of injury states a prompt response, often people who have been trained in medical and/or military professions have a tendency to respond automatically to assess the situation at hand and respond to provide the appropriate service then deal with their own personal reaction to the situation later. Simply because the result is delayed should not require a classification of “disorder”.

“Why does it matter what you call it?” you may ask. One reason it matters is the “pre-existing condition” issue that many insurance companies use to shield themselves from their fiscal responsibility. An injury is a result of a specific event and is covered. A disease is a worsening of something that already existed due to repeated exposure. Another reason is the perception by others which in turn affects a self-perception that one is defective or of lesser value because some inferior quality they possess that resulted in a disease rather than an injury caused by an event not in their control. This attitude causes a lowered self-esteem which is not helpful as there is already a high rate of suicide. Changing of this term may well assist with a change of perception and improvement of self-esteem.

When there is a physical injury that results in temporary and/or permanent damages, the damage is visible. The post-traumatic stress and the mental and emotional scars are not quite as apparent. However, that does not affect the severity of the injuries, the validity of the injuries, nor the effects on the victim’s self-esteem, relationships and quality of life.

While I am a minor, not a medical, legal, or insurance professional, I am affected by the problems from PTS personally and with family members. Due to the exponential growth of PTS sufferers and the estimated 22 veteran deaths due to the suicide epidemic, we need to expedite this process to better prepare to meet the needs of persons with PTS and those care givers and family members who will face post-traumatic stress problems.. While what you call something may not change the thing itself, it does affect the perception and attitudes towards those persons who should be held in high regard rather than shame and ignorance. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon and working with you to better our world.

Sincerely,

Charleise DeCarol Heath

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References

Foster Law. (2014, October 16). What is the Difference Between an Industrial Injury and an Occupational Disease? Retrieved from Foster Law PC: https://www.fosterlawpc.com/Blog/Detail/what_is_the_difference_between_an_industrial_injury_and_an_occupational_disease

Mayo Clinic. (2018, July 6). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syn-20355967

Menon, D. (2019, July 9). Disease,Disorder, Condition, Syndrome What’s the Difference? Retrieved from Health Writer Hub: https://www.healthwriterhub.com/disease-disorder-condition-syndrome-whats-the-difference/

U.S Department of Veteran Affairs. (2020, April 26). How Common is PTSD in Adults? Retrieved from PTSD: National Center for PTSD: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp

Charleise Heath Author of PTSI