May 12th, 2009
03:51 PM ET

Video: PTSD causes, symptoms

Watch this video for more on the symptoms and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Filed under: 360° Radar • PTSD
January 13th, 2009
09:13 AM ET

Army suicides rise as time spent in combat increases

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/12/30/afghanistan.attacks/art.bombings.afp.gi.jpg caption="The aftermath of a roadside bombing in Afghanistan."]

Gregg Zoroya

Josh Barber, former combat soldier, parked outside the Army hospital here one morning last August armed for war.

A cook at the dining facility, Barber sat in his truck wearing battle fatigues, earplugs and a camouflage hood on his head. He had an arsenal: seven loaded guns, nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition, knives in his pockets. On the front seat, an AK-47 had a bullet in the chamber.

The "smell of death" he experienced in Iraq continued to haunt him, his wife says. He was embittered about the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that crippled him, the Army's failure to treat it, and the strains the disorder put on his marriage.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • PTSD • War on Terror
January 6th, 2009
04:54 PM ET

Troops suffering from PTSD won't get Purple Heart

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/06/ptsd.purple.heart/art.purple.heart.gi.jpg caption="Soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will not receive the Purple Heart, the Pentagon says."]

Mike Mount
CNN Senior Pentagon Producer

The Purple Heart medal, awarded to service members who have been physically wounded in combat, will not be given to troops diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a Pentagon statement said.

The decision, which was made in early November but just made public this week, came about after months of deliberations sparked by a question on the topic posed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a Pentagon briefing in May.

"(It's) clearly something that needs to be looked at," Gates said, responding to the query. His answer prompted a review by the Defense Department's Awards Advisory Group, made up of "award experts" in the Pentagon.


Filed under: Pentagon • PTSD
March 25th, 2008
12:32 PM ET

Women Vets: Your comments, her response

360 Tonight

Watch Randi Kaye's interview with Veteran Keri Christensen.

We received an enormous number of comments on Randi Kaye’s Blog: Women vets suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many of you shared stories, provided insight, and offered your support... but one of those comments came from the very person Randi reported on, Keri Christensen.

Keri was nearly the victim of a roadside bombing in Iraq when the convoy in front of hers was hit. She suffers nightmares from the incident and has brought that anxiety of war home... Keri also suffers from MTS (Military Sexual Trauma); a situation so prevalent in the military that it has its own acronym...Keri shared her situation, the unease she still endures, and you responded...

We wanted to post a follow-up response, from Keri herself:

"Thank you to everyone for the kind words. I told my story because I am a strong woman and feel that it’s important for other Vets out there to get help and let the American people know that it’s ok to speak out on such topics. I joined the Military back in 1991, because I was raised in a family where women were taught that we can do and be anything we want. As far as my superior sexually harassing me, he stepped out of line. He is a married man with children himself and just because we were overseas does not constitute his actions. As far as the military denying my claim, I expected that, and I have to live with that. It’s like being locked up in prison for a crime you didn’t commit and you spend a lot of time trying to prove yourself. I was told by the State of Wisconsin “what happens in Kuwait, stays in Kuwait” Isn’t that what they say about Vegas, I don’t recall my duty overseas was anything like Vegas."

– Keri

To read more about Keri’s story and see the interview, check out Randi's blog: ‘Back from Iraq, but still fighting the battle

For more on bloggers' reaction check out: ‘Bloggers react to women vets story

As always, please share your thoughts with us here.

Filed under: PTSD • Randi Kaye
March 20th, 2008
06:12 PM ET

Bloggers react to women vets story

360 Tonight

Veteran Keri Christensen was nearly a victim of a roadside bombing in Iraq when the convoy in front of hers was hit. Here's part of her interview with Randi Kaye.

More than 180,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’d be happy to know so many of you care about them.

In my blog yesterday, I shared with you the story of Keri Christensen, a former member of the National Guard who served in Iraq and is now suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’s married and the mother of two adorable little girls, Madison and Oliva.

Keri has nightmares about body parts falling on her, she has thoughts of suicide and panic attacks, and sometime she’s so anxious she can’t even remember her home phone number...


Filed under: Iraq • PTSD • Randi Kaye
March 20th, 2008
11:04 AM ET

The Fifth Anniversary of Women and War

The story of Keri Christensen (featured here on CNN.com) should upset all Americans. She is a patriot. She is also one of an estimated 180,000 women who have courageously served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

Women make up 11 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and 15 percent of the military as a whole. Despite DoD and Army policies that prohibit women in combat, there are more female service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan than in previous conflicts, and a greater portion are situated
in combat roles.

But, like so many others, Keri is now facing another fight. Today, she is back at home in Denver struggling to overcome mental health injuries . And five years after the start of the Iraq war, Keri is not alone...


Filed under: Iraq • Paul Rieckhoff • PTSD
March 19th, 2008
11:58 AM ET

Women Vets: Back from Iraq, but still fighting the battle

She doesn’t drive more than two miles from home. She’s afraid her minivan is going to hit a roadside bomb.  She has thoughts of suicide, nightmares about body parts falling on top of her, and sometimes can’t even remember her home phone number.

360 Tonight

Veteran Keri Christensen was nearly a victim of a roadside bombing in Iraq when the convoy in front of hers was hit. Here's a preview of her interview with Randi Kaye.

This is what life is like for Keri Christensen. She served in Iraq for the National Guard. Her job was to haul tanks up and down the country’s most dangerous roads. She was shot at by snipers and witnessed the convoy in front of hers blow up. That terrified her. She told me, “you have this fear, oh my god, I still have to go through there… and am I gonna make it?”

I first interviewed Keri in November 2006. She was part of history then, among the first group of women in the history of the United States classified as combat veterans.

Female troops technically are only allowed to do “combat support” but women are seeing violence like never before, and it’s leaving them with battle scars, both inside and out.

Keri was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, before she left the war zone. She’s been home now two and half years and is still struggling. Last fall, she hit rock bottom. Again, she thought about killing herself after another panic attack.

I asked her what “rock bottom” feels like, and she said “a very dark, lonely place.”

Keri is married with two little girls, Madison and Olivia.  She says her kids know she’s not the same “mommy” she was when she left for war. They know she’s going to counseling once a week and also group therapy. She’s taking all kinds of pills for her nightmares, PTSD, anxiety and depression.


Filed under: Iraq • PTSD • Randi Kaye
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