Friday, January 02, 2009

Recruiters


Another good piece of journalism, I would say great if I could see the data, review the research, but there's no time for that, and the point of the piece is worthwhile for now, important, even.

This one does make me angry.

NPR fills us in on what the U.S. Army is doing to employ veterans who want a career in the military. Like most things we hear about the army, about war, about combat, it isn’t pretty.

Many of the vets, having spent two years in Iraq, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, i.e., they have flashbacks from combat, recurring nightmares, severe anxiety and depression, and the relationship problems attendant to these. These gentle men and women are now in jobs recruiting for the armed forces. Their job is to sell the army to young men and women. And this is very stressful, we hear. It is precisely the type of stress that therapists would suggest they run from, not walk.

Two recruits a month is all they have to find, and this may sound easy, but it’s not if you are an honest person, just can’t lie.

Here’s what I picture.

The recruiter is at a high school or hanging out at the union in front of a table at a college campus. A young man leafs through the literature then gets up his courage and asks,

Have you seen any action?

Vet: Uh, huh. I was in Iraq for two years.

Kid: Can you tell me what it’s really like?

And he does. Or it shows on his face. No sale.

I think that if what NPR, National Public Radio, tells us is true (that recruiting for the U.S. Army is, hands down the most stressful occupation in the United States,* worse than law enforcement, 17 suicides, 5 at the Houston Recruiters Battalion alone, since 2001) then this is not only irresponsible, that the army places vets in this job, but criminal.

There is a dissertation in here somewhere, just waiting to happen. Thanks NPR.

Therapydoc

*That's the data I'd like to have a look at.

12 comments:

Reas Kroicowl said...

Yes, this is criminal. So is the amount of dollars we spend on recruiting efforts of all kinds every year, which is in the billions.

JJ said...

That is fascinating... my roommate from college is an officer in the Marines and is over in Iraq for her second tour right now. After her first tour I talked to her about PTSD and her experience in her unit, compared to what I was hearing on the news. I was really surprised at her response. To summarize, she said that you come back from a war completely changed. Does she like to go out in crowds anymore? No. Does she get freaked out by the close quarters at a bar and the loud noises? Yes. She mostly just wanted to stay at home, alone. But THAT response to her, is normal part of changing through the experience of war. She was trying to argue that the PTSD stories were being overblown. Yet I came out of the conversation feeling that perhaps the military's definition of what is PTSD, and what is normal, and what warrants help is really skewed.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I am confused about the exact point of the post. 1) Concern about the data that NPR is using 2) concern about the position of recruiters.

Above were my original thoughts. Now that I have read the other two comments, I have another major concern. It appears that readers of this post are taking the bait of PTSD and the military.

In my professional and personal experience, PTSD seems to happen to many individuals in via many situations. While PTSD is very real, it does seem that if one is predisposed to PTSD...then they will experience symptoms regardless of the circumstances.

I think it is sad to point ONLY to one profession such as military when thinking of PTSD.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I am confused about the exact point of the post. 1) Concern about the data that NPR is using 2) concern about the position of recruiters.

Above were my original thoughts. Now that I have read the other two comments, I have another major concern. It appears that readers of this post are taking the bait of PTSD and the military.

In my professional and personal experience, PTSD seems to happen to many individuals in via many situations. While PTSD is very real, it does seem that if one is predisposed to PTSD...then they will experience symptoms regardless of the circumstances.

I think it is sad to point ONLY to one profession such as military when thinking of PTSD.

Isle Dance said...

It seems long overdue to change a few things in regards to the military, which I consider an honorable occupation. Like...it should always be a free choice. No sales pitch. No pressure. No contract. Ever. And like every other occupation, one decides if/when to join and if/when to leave. At any given moment. Extensive body and brain health care included. End of story.

therapydoc said...

ANON who is confused.
(1) I'm not concerned with the data NPR is using. I told readers that this is journalism and that journalists need not have PhD's, they check facts, but aren't going to look at research with a critical eye, not the way someone like me might.

2) My concern IS that the army does not screen well enough when they put vets into positions as recruiters. If this is a VERY stressful position, then one who is suicidal, depressed, one who suffers from PTSD, should NOT, in my opinion, be taking this job.

Thus I disagree with your conclusion that one predisposed to PTSD will experience symptoms regardless of the circumstances.

In a less stressful context, these symptoms are less likely to trigger suicide. It is the suicide rate that I am concerned about.

I'm not sure if the police or fire departments screen for PTSD, but I would imagine they do. If you have any research on this, by all means, pass it along to me in an email. Thanks.

therapydoc said...

ANON who is confused.
(1) I'm not concerned with the data NPR is using. I told readers that this is journalism and that journalists need not have PhD's, they check facts, but aren't going to look at research with a critical eye, not the way someone like me might.

2) My concern IS that the army does not screen well enough when they put vets into positions as recruiters. If this is a VERY stressful position, then one who is suicidal, depressed, one who suffers from PTSD, should NOT, in my opinion, be taking this job.

Thus I disagree with your conclusion that one predisposed to PTSD will experience symptoms regardless of the circumstances.

In a less stressful context, these symptoms are less likely to trigger suicide. It is the suicide rate that I am concerned about.

I'm not sure if the police or fire departments screen for PTSD, but I would imagine they do. If you have any research on this, by all means, pass it along to me in an email. Thanks.

Margo said...

I agree that this is a horrible outcome if it is indeed true. It's sad to imagine what these returning veterans must go through. I especially appreciate that before drawing a definite conclusion and calling it great journalism, you repeatedly say you would have to see and analyze the data. Journalism ain't what it used to be for the most part. I think it is our job as private citizens, to question things, to look at news stories whether we think we "agree" with them or not, particularly those on emotionally heated issues that throw everyone into black and white thinking. Thank for a thought provoking post!

Anonymous said...

Isreli Gal

Being in Israel in the middle of a war I have to say that I see serving in the army alittle different.

therapydoc said...

Gal,

It's traumatizing no matter where you are, no matter what the war. But fighting in the Israel Defence Force (IDF) is looked upon as a matter of one's own personal survival, the survival of one's own country, worth the price.

And it's not a volunteer army.

Is that what you mean?

Anonymous said...

Yup. Thats what I mean .
We in Israel dont raely have a chioce of going to the army or not
(unless there is a medical reason or you are a consiensous objector\pacafist (even then you risk being introuble with the law.

Personaly I would like to see our
israeli youth doing stuff that 17\ 18 year olds do world over (travel and go to colege and just be teenagers) Not carry rifels ect..
Many of our youth and army servers end up with PTSD and other traumas (ie second Lebanese war \Yom Kippur war ect..)
Who knows what this war (Cast lead \Gaza war)will leave our army servers with. What traumas ect..

therapydoc said...

I studied with a psychologist , Yoel Elizur, at Hebrew U when I took a Sabbatical for a year in Israel, and he told me that it is one of the biggest problems in the country, really. That is to be expected, I think, when there are bombs and terrorist attacks that occur on a relatively common (compared to anywhere else).