PTSD — the never-ending price veterans pay for serving their country

Dr. ir Johannes Drooghaag
3 min readOct 27, 2021

This week a brave veteran left us. After years of fighting her demons and thinking she was getting them under control, the recent developments brought them back in full force. She decided to end her battle. May she rest in eternal peace!

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is by far not an exclusive domain of veterans with active combat experience, but it does occur not only more frequently but also significantly stronger with those who have faced the horrors of war. The horrors of war which are best described in M*A*S*H 4077 by Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce — “Hell is where the sinners go, war is where the innocent suffer”.

After the battles is before the battles, the battles with the demons in their minds. Some veterans suffering under PTSD relive the most horrible moments over and over again. Others get triggered by certain impulses that release memories they would rather forget. Some learn to keep their demons at bay through therapy and support from family and friends, others struggle until their final breath.

In many cases, PTSD remains latent under the surface, waiting for a trigger, like the trigger that came with the withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Was it all for nothing?” is much more than just a very valid question when you lost Brothers and Sisters on the battlefield. “Was it worth it?” is not just challenging the responsible politicians and leaders in anger and desperation when your recurring nightmares include the smells and sounds of death.

Many Brothers and Sisters in arms are dealing with their emerged PTSD while others are busy vividly discussing who is to blame for what and why from their comfortable and safe living rooms. Unless we act rapidly and deploy support and therapy for all the veterans who served their countries in yet another armed conflict, we risk that some will decide to make the same decision our Sister made.

Every veteran, without exception, deserves the same political and leadership support for fully funded and unrestricted support programs, as the political and leadership support that was there when they were ordered into combat! Where is the political outcry over veterans suffering with their demons caused by wars that were initiated and prolonged by politicians? Where is the media now, after their embedded coverage of the conflicts no longer brings them viewers and revenue from advertisement? Where are all those who protested wars? And where are all those who voted for the politicians who decide over life and death of so many?

Why is almost everyone silent when it comes to veterans? Are they the dirty residue of whatever it is everyone doesn’t want to be remembered of? Until the next conflict starts, and by the decision of someone behind a cozy desk, hordes of new veterans are made, and most likely also expected to sort things out for themselves when they happen to survive a trip to ‘hell on earth’!

There are good support programs for veterans, and there is effective therapy available. But not enough, not even remotely close to enough. And that is something that must change urgently. That requires budgets, but these budgets are just a fraction of the budgets for wars and sponsored conflicts. Most of all, it requires political support from the same parties and representatives who decide on wars and so-called defense budgets!

During WWI an unknown soldier wrote: “I do not know what I fear most. Dying in battle or living with the memories of it.”

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Dr. ir Johannes Drooghaag

Dad, consultant, coach, speaker, author. Mainly Cyber Security, leadership, responsible tech and organizational change. https://johannesdrooghaag.com