I heard this story yesterday on NPR. It chronicles the experiences of Iraq veterans who, upon their return from the war, suffer from depression and anxiety (in the form of PTSD). Rather than being treated for their emotional problems, they’re ridiculed and made into pariahs. As a former soldier myself (U.S. Army), I can attest to the general attitude within the Army that any form of emotional pain is a sign of a weakness and is shunned in the same way that High School kids shun the outcasts for fear of being associated with them. Luckily for me, my problems with anxiety didn’t start until years after I’d left the military, but not all soldiers are so fortunate.

Even within our society at large, those with anxiety and depression are usually ostracized to some degree, but this is nothing compared to what happens in the military. The military is, in a sense, a microcosm of society; but it’s also less tolerant, more judgmental and reactive, and flush with a sense of bravado that is more a facade than anything else.

To hear the story, follow the link and click on “Listen.” I do however want to warn you that the story is both shocking and graphic. If you’re easily triggered by listening to others’ stories of anxiety and depression, I would proceed with caution. Yet, confronting anxiety is about confronting our fears, so if you’re just slightly unnerved, listening to this story may actually be benefit for you. I found it both saddening and inspirational.

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