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Khaina Duncan
Mrs. Bradley
ENC 2135
18 February 2016
Marine Corps Community
Every day, men and women make the decision to enlist and become a part of the Marine
Corps community. Being labeled as a masculine and aggressive branch of military compared to
the other branches, Marines uphold a certain prestigious reputation. Marines are the nation’s first
line of defense, and with that responsibility comes multiple casualties inside and out of the tight
knit community. The Marine Corps is the smallest branch of military, yet Marines suffer from the
mental health disorder of post traumatic stress disorder at an increasingly starling rate. Marines
turn to psychiatrists and sometimes radical programs to aid in eliminating PTSD symptoms. Inside and out of the community, there is a debate about if combat deployed Marines should look
to medication and counseling, or recreational activities and group interactions with other Marines
for PTSD treatment.
The Marines community exists to protect the United States at a moment’s notice. This
branch is known for it’s swiftness and dedication to defend the nation land, air, or sea. Each unit
is a smaller niche of the large community of Marines around the globe ready to sacrifice everything for their country. Marines are vigorous. Twelve weeks of intense training that several men
and women are not able to complete make a person a member of the Marine community. Learning skills such as hand to hand combat, and martial arts is just a glimpse into the hard work
Marines-in-training learn. Living in captivity, and getting minimal sleep makes these trainees

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believe they are already at war. After being called a member of the Marines community, another
title is given to the men and women dedicating their lives to protecting and defending civilians
nationally and around the globe. Marines are classified as warriors; With their courage, commitment, and honorable qualities defending America, they make the world a more safe and secure
place.
Marines complete their intensive training and are thrown into protecting the nation. Multiple jobs are assigned to Marines, and tours overseas are a common step after becoming apart of
the Marine Corps brotherhood. The Marine Corps, though the smallest branch of military, only
has about seven percent of female members in its community. Marines view each other as equals
and after an average seven month tours overseas, they equally are drained. Many Marines extend
their tours, physically and psychologically causing detrimental effects to their health. Once these
deployed warriors come home the toll of grief, stress, and anxiety, can cause symptoms of post
traumatic stress disorder. Abbreviated PTSD, the disorder is defined as “a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it (Mayo
Clinic)”. Marines know that death is inevitable in their position of being the country’s first responders to any unexpected threats, but that does not make it any easier to see a fellow brother
lost in the line of duty. After the adrenaline rush subsides from being in combat, Marines may
take a while to adjust back to normal life; some never readjusting at all.
PTSD in Marines can take a very long time to completely go away. The problem with this
disorder is that violence and drug abuse is commonly known to take place in Marines that return
home after deployment. Letting the disorder effect every day habits lead to misconduct and without treatment men and women in the Marines can spiral out of control in their personal lives.

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“The rates of mental health morbidity among soldiers and Marines returning from deployment in
support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be as high as 20% [21].Two separate investigations described proportions of PTSD between 12.2% and 12.9% in soldiers and Marines 3 to 4
months after combat exposure in OEF/ OIF (Phillips)”. Combat exposure is one of the leading
causes to the increase of PTSD in active duty Marines and veterans alike. After coming home
from just one tour, men and women can become aggressive, suicidal, and unrecognizable to family members. Drugs and alcohol become a crutch to get service members through the day; combined with anti- depressants sometimes prescribed by psychiatrists, this can be deadly. “Individuals with comorbid PTSD and substance abuse problems are at an increased risk for interpersonal violence, imprisonment, and homelessness [32-34]. Therefore, our results provide more evidence for the importance of drug abuse screening and counseling among service members with
PTSD (Highfill-McRoy)”. There are several ways for Marines to not let PTSD effect their personal lives. In all the branches of Military there are treatment options to provide assistance in
helping service members overcome PTSD.
Inside of the Marines community, clinical psychologists are trying to bring awareness to
the hardships involved with Marines recovering from PTSD. Several psychologists treat men and
women battling the emotional disorder on a weekly to monthly basis. Research concludes that at
this moment, the number of increasing Marines suffering from PTSD is not going to change.
Having several treatment options that do not show a successful rate in PTSD decreasing, researchers and members of the community alike are frustrated. Digital media outlets have dug further into figuring out how to better understand PTSD inside and out of the community. TV
shows, news sources, and movies have begun to portray men and women characters suffering

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from PTSD. Characters like Owen Hunt on the primetime television show, Grey’s Anatomy,
show the outside community the life of a former war doctor struggling with PTSD. Falling in
love with another character, Cristina Yang, brought along extra struggles in Hunt’s PTSD recovery. The way that Cristina stood by Owen, even after he has a nightmare and chokes her in her
sleep, shows what really happens to relationships after being deployed. “I was also impressed
that the show put the girlfriend in the therapist office with the client. Involving friends and family is a critical piece of the positive recovery puzzle. More treatment centers need to incorporate
family and friends into the treatment process, even if it is a once a month orientation (Huffington
Post)”, says the writer of this article. Television shows like Grey’s Anatomy, and other forms of
digital media relate to former Marines and their families. This digital mode also helps people
outside of the Marines community more about PTSD in soldiers.
While there are several available options for Marines to utilize when discovering PTSD
symptoms, more than half of the Marine Corps community will not seek help. Fear of Marine
Corps careers being terminated, or being labeled as having a certain type of mental disorder
makes thousands of Marine never get treated for PTSD. “…, despite a growing acknowledgment
within the Corps of the mental costs of war, PTSD remains under diagnosed and under treated.
At Twentynine Palms, some of the civilian counselors on base avoid sending marines to division
psychology because at least a dozen marines they referred there for treatment were given “personality disorder” diagnoses and kicked out of the service (Dobie)”. The stigma of a PTSD diagnosis is preventing Marines from overcoming a treatable illness. The Marine Corps is one of the
only branches that has a brig on almost all of its bases, easily about to contain Marines that mis-

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behave; a lot of these men and women suffer sadly from PTSD. Not treating PTSD creates several problem in the rigid disciplinary branch of military.
There is a divide inside and out of the Marines community about which treatments work
best for post deployed service members suffering from PTSD. There are several different options
for men and women returning home from their tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the
globe. Several Marine veterans who recovered from PTSD and are now advocates for fellow service members believe that psycho-active drugs should not be used to help fight PTSD. Psychiatrists believe that Zoloft and other known prescription drugs are the best way to calm Marines
and help with PTSD. According to CNN, “From 2005 to 2011, military spending on psychoactive drugs -- like anti-psychotics, sedatives, stimulants and mood enhancers -- increased by nearly 700%, according to Tricare Management Activity, the division of the Department of Defense
that manages health care services for the military (CNN)”. Characterized as a more radical approach to help former deployed soldiers, Dr. Mary Vieten believes strictly in outdoor recreational
activities for soldiers suffering from PTSD. Vieten takes former and active duty Marines into the
woods in groups of 15 - 25, and do activities such as yoga and horse riding to relax and form
bonds with group members. Besides Vieten’s treatments there are other treatments just like this
becoming more popular. While the attendance numbers are increasing there is no long term
knowledge of the program’s effectiveness. The debate as to whether medication should be prescribed to returning Marines with PTSD, or a more outdoors radical approach will be discussed
in the Marines community for several years to come.
The endeavor to get Marines PTSD treatment is an increasingly losing battle when it
comes to open ended therapy and medications. When it comes to the soldiers actually attempting

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to be treated for PTSD, an average number of 20 to 50 percent walk away before its completion
(Robinson). These service members get an average of six months at home before redeployment
and most never attempt to get a psychological evaluation. A former Marine wrote an article on
how PTSD effected his life after coming home from Iraq, and the different treatments he tried.
After four tours, Sgt. Travis Twiggs writes about how after arriving home his PTSD symptoms
skyrocketed and he began to emotionally destroy his family. Going to a clinic on base for PTSD
treatment, Twiggs began taking two prescribed medications, and received counseling weekly;
then he was sent home. This was not effective, and Twiggs spiraled out of control, ending up in a
locked ward of a Naval hospital for two weeks. “I was asked if I would be interested in attending
a PTSD program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). I agreed to the move and off I
went…At one point while I was at the VA, I was up to 12 different medications a day (Twiggs)”.
Twiggs completed a three month program with the VA and eliminated ten of the twelve medications being prescribed to after he finished the treatment program. While he began to feel rejuvenated for a short period of time, like several Marines with PTSD, Travis Twiggs lost the battle to
the illness in May of 2015.
Marines that do attempt to receive PTSD treatment from professionals have a program
that is customized just for their needs. Like Sgt. Twiggs’s three month VA treatment program,
there are several others that highly medicate its patients. Psychiatrists believe that radical programs that ban medicine completely are doing the opposite of helping the mental state of
Marines post deployment. A well respected psychiatrist, Dr. Harold Kudler spoke with Carol
Costello and said, “I honestly think we'd be doing a disservice if we said you must never take a
medicine for this when there is so much evidence medicine can help," he told me. "What we

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need is the right medicine for you at the right dose at the right time for the right period of time
(CNN)”. Dr. Kudler has worked with several soldiers and has had success with several of them;
every patient is different. PTSD could be cured through medication or another option of alternative medicine and outdoor activity.
Seeking alternatives to multiple medications, several Marines battling with PTSD look to
recreational activities outdoors. Surfing classes have been opened to Marines and Marine Corp
veterans at Camp Pendleton's Del Mar Beach. The ocean is considered to be one of the most relaxing places for a person and Marines for free get to let go of all their anxious thoughts and feelings out by the sea with trained surfing professionals. “Before going surfing, participants join a
group discussion led by professional surfers and occupational therapists that cover the benefits of
surfing both mentally and physically. During discussions Marines talk with their instructors
about their particular challenges and what their goals are for the program (McIntosh)”. Programs
like these not only let Marines form bonds with each other, but also feel empathetic towards one
another as they all struggle with the same fight against PTSD. It does not matter what efforts aid
Marines in fighting PTSD as long as more service members are treated and the number of service
members battling the mental disorder decrease.
Inside and out of the Marine Corps community, the use of pathos, and ethos are used to
attempt to bring more awareness to the community’s increase of PTSD in its members. Psychologists, and researchers alike have been studying what the most effective treatment is for men and
women suffering from PTSD. Communicating this information through studies, scholarly journals, and interviews on major news stations is how people outside of the Marines Corps community become informed on the issues of lack of successful treatment options for Marines. The use

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of pathos is seen in emotional videos of soldiers battling internally with anxiety. Hearing daunting PTSD reflections coming directly from formerly deployed Marines gives people outside of
the Marines community the ability to feel empathetic about what war does to the men and
women dedicating their lives to protect the nation. Using ethos, research based studies document
how PTSD affects a certain number of soldiers over the course of several months. This informs
the outside of the community about the number of soldiers battling with the emotional disorder,
and how certain treatments may or may not work. Using ethos and pathos to relate to the outside
of the Marines community about the of lack of treatment options for PTSD brings awareness to
creating more effective treatments for Marines in the future.
The number of Marines suffering from PTSD did not increase instantaneously. Since the
time when service members were in the Vietnam War, research has shown PTSD is one of the
major mental injuries associated with Marines and other branches’ service men and women. “the
Department of Defense found that among Iraq veterans, as many as one in six Marines developed
symptoms of major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder — despite the fact that almost
60 percent were unlikely to ever seek treatment for the disorder (ptsdtreatment)”. Veterans ignore
their PTSD symptoms for years, or even completely, and then emotionally and physically deteriorate. More than 18 percent of veterans with PTSD die by retirement age, about twice the percentage of those without the disorder (nytimes). Researchers still can not fully determine why
some veterans have PTSD, and others are fine. It also is not known why minority veterans are
two to three times more likely to develop PTSD compared to white veterans. A look at education
and combat exposure in minority veterans was explored for more information, but nothing fully
can explain why they are at a higher risk for the disorder. Vietnam veterans and active duty

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Marines alike are still being mentally consumed by a disorder that researchers are trying to find a
universally successful treatment for.
The Marine Corps community has several problems with the increasing number of service members with PTSD, and only very limited solutions. While PTSD treatments are available
for Marines, 60% refuse it, fearing their careers will be gone. Alternative medicinal programs try
to bond post deployed soldiers together in the great outdoors, but does not have long-term research to back up its effectiveness. Due to the circumstances at hand, to decrease the number of
Marines and other soldiers with PTSD, their needs to be records showing the progress of treatments in service members. The only way to treat this disorder is to actually measure the way
Marines respond to treatments, whether with alternative approaches, or medications and therapy.
There is only one small PTSD program that makes consistent assessments on soldiers, called
SIPP, which stands for specialized intensive PTSD program. “The average PTSD Checklist
(PCL) scores for veterans at admission to the programs and 4 months after discharge were 65.9
and 60.2, respectively. That indicates that most program graduates met the criteria for clinically
significant PTSD after discharge on the basis of a PCL cutoff score of 50 (time)”. Without knowing how successful certain treatments are for effecting Marines with PTSD, the solution to minimizing the amount of veterans and deployed soldiers with this mental disorder will never be
conclusive. Marines dedicate their lives to provide the United States and other nations with security at a moment’s notice. With this comes trauma, eye witnessing death constantly, and having to
stay more courageous than fearful. These service men and women are honorable and after returning home may experience anxiety beyond their control. There needs to be a prominent PTSD

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treatment option for the men and women putting their lives on the front lines to defend their nation.

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Words Cited
Carey, Benedict. "Combat Stress Among Veterans Is Found to Persist Since Vietnam."
The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Costello, Carol. "PTSD Veteran: I'm Not Crazy." CNN. Cable News Network, 23 July
2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Dobie, Kathy. "Denial In The Corps." Nation 286.6 (2008): 11-19. Academic Search
Complete. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Highfill-McRoy, Robyn M., et al. "Psychiatric Diagnoses And Punishment For Misconduct: The Effects Of PTSD In Combat-Deployed Marines." BMC Psychiatry 10.
(2010): 88-95. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
McIntosh, Linda. "Surf classes open to Marines, vets - Therapeutic effects of ocean help with
PTSD, other injuries." San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) 11 Feb. 2016, Final ME, Local: 6. NewsBank. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
Phillips, Christopher J., et al. "Risk Factors For Post traumatic Stress Disorder Among
Deployed US Male Marines." BMC Psychiatry 10.(2010): 52-62. Academic
Search Complete. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
"Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." - Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Marines." PTSD Treatment Help RSS. N.p., n.d.
Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
Renee, Michelle. "Grey's Anatomy Sheds Light on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 Nov. 2009. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

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Robinson, Seth. "Soldiers Fail to Seek PTSD Treatment or Drop out of Therapy Early, Research
Finds." Stars and Stripes. N.p., 15 May 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
Twiggs, Travis N. "MCA&F." PTSD: The War Within. N.p., Jan. 2008. Web. 15 Feb.
2016.