HOUSTON, Nov. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It is estimated that as many as 400,000 service members live with the invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), the two signature wounds of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).
Still, a 2010 study by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that of nearly 50,000 GWOT veterans with new PTSD diagnoses, fewer than 10 percent appeared to have received evidence-based VA mental health treatment for PTSD, and 20 percent of those veterans did not have a single mental health follow-up visit in the first year after diagnosis. Michelle Slaughter, U.S. Marine Corps and Army wounded warrior from Houston, fit this statistic until she was finally diagnosed and treated for both PTSD and a TBI. But it took years of suffering both physically and mentally, and the abrupt end of her military career. "I deployed to Iraq twice with the Army," Michelle said. "Looking back, I now know there were several issues that triggered my PTSD." Michelle drew in a deep breath and began to recount the stories from her past that would forever be connected to her future. In her first Army deployment to Tikrit, Iraq, Michelle was a supply service member attached to a military police patrol that was conducting regular missions searching for weapons caches and insurgents. As such, she was exposed to the same hostile insurgents and their improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in her area of operations as the male warriors. She returned stateside and began a downward spiral. Michelle was unknowingly in the throes of PTSD. Due to the misconception that women warriors do not fill combat roles while serving in forward operations, physical and mental health concerns associated with such experiences were never considered relevant to her treatment.