PTSD Awareness Month

By: Betsy Pownall

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. PTSD is a complex disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing trauma.

While PTSD was recognized as an official mental health disorder in 1980, it has been part of being human since time began. PTSD has been called many names such as “shell shock” during WWI and “combat fatigue” in WWII. 

However, PTSD does not just affect veterans. It can occur in anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, nationality, culture, or socio-economic status. 


PTSD affects 3.5% of U.S. adults every year. 

One in 11 people will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. 

Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. 

U.S. Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites. 

The U.S. military is highly affected by PTSD. 

Veterans deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have an 11-20% risk to develop PTSD while veterans of the Vietnam War face a 30% risk of developing PTSD. 


PTSD has a variety of causes and affects individuals differently. It may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a terrorist act/war/active combat, natural disaster, serious accident, rape/sexual assault or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury. 

A diagnosis of trauma usually requires a person to have direct exposure to a traumatic event, but it can also be indirect exposure. It can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to traumatic events. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis of PTSD – Individual Differences: 

Trauma affects people in different ways with varying severity. 

Some people seem to be more protected, or resilient when exposed to trauma while others may be more vulnerable to the effects of trauma. 

Different trauma creates different triggers; it is impossible to know how a severe traumatic event will affect an individual. 

Recovering from trauma is a highly personalized process. 

You have the power to help people with PTSD, even if you are not a mental health professional. 

  • Get familiar with local resources just in case a friend or loved one needs support
  • Listen to the issues and concerns of those affected by PTSD 
  • Read about PTSD to better understand it.


The Trauma Healing Project 

VA Benefits 

Local Trauma-Informed Care Resources  

PTSD: National Center for PTSD 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)  


There are a lot of good books on trauma. 

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, by Judith Herman, M.D.

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem

The Politics of Trauma: Somatics, Healing, and Social Justice, by Staci Haines

When They Call You a Terrorist: a Black Lives Matter Memoir, by Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele