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Khaina Duncan
Mrs. Bradley
ENC 2135
15 March 2016
Marine Corps Community
Every day, men and women make the decision to enlist and become a part of the Marine
Corps community. With this enlistment comes the possible mental disorder of post-traumatic
stress. 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). 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 this tight-knit community. The Marine Corps
is the smallest branch of the military, having an estimated 15 or more bases around the world, yet
Marines suffer from the mental health disorder of post-traumatic stress more than any other
branch at an increasing rate. Marines turn to psychiatrists and sometimes radical alternative 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 psychiatric therapy, or recreational activities
and group interactions with other Marines for PTSD treatment.
The Marines community exists to protect the United States and other nations at a moment’s notice. This branch is known for its swiftness and dedication to defending the nation land,
air, or sea. Each unit is a smaller niche of the already quite small community of Marines around
the globe ready to sacrifice everything for their country. All the service members in the branches

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of military combined make up less than one percent of the United States population (Hurt).
Twelve weeks of intense training prepare men and woman for future combat situations; but, not
every Marine in training finishes their training due to its level of difficulty. 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 tries to make these trainees believe they are
already at war. Bootcamp may or not prepare Marines for what they are actually going to see in
combat. When asked if boot camp prepared Marines mentally for deployment, retired Marine,
Danny Mosquero, said, “It tried to break you down, but no not really.” 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 a part of
the Marine Corps brotherhood. 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. 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.

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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 everyday habits lead to misconduct and without treatment men and women in the Marines can spiral out of control in their personal lives.
“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 5). Combat exposure is one of the leading
causes of 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 of 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 6). There are several ways for Marines to not let PTSD effect their personal lives. In all the branches of the military, there are treatment options to provide assistance in
helping service members overcome PTSD.
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 Marines never get treated for PTSD. “…, despite a growing acknowledg-

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ment 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 16). 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 misbehave; a lot of these men and women suffer sadly from PTSD. Not treating PTSD creates several problem in the rigid disciplinary branch of the military.
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 are how people outside of the Marines Corps community become informed on the issues of lack of successful treatment options for Marines. The
use 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

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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.
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 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 are 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” (Renee), says the writer of this article. PTSD is a disorder that is very
individual. No Marine dealing with the disorder suffers from exactly what a fellow member is
going through. “Every branch of military suffers, it's very individual, so I believe that it all depends on how you leave going into combat that determines the possibility of having PTSD when
back home” (Mosquero). Television shows like Grey’s Anatomy and other forms of digital media
relate to former service members and their families. This digital mode also helps people outside
of the Marines community further understand PTSD in Marines.
Television shows like Grey’s Anatomy demonstrate how relationships operate when a
spouse or partner has PTSD. Digital media is helping the outside of the Marines community to
see steps that need to be taken to help their loved ones recover from their mental disorder. PTSD

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is individual, but service men and women need family and friends around to help them with their
recoveries. “Interestingly, and consistent with previous research that describes the buffering effect of social support on PTSD symptoms [15,43-47], we found that reporting 0 to 2 close friends
or relatives at follow-up was associated with a non significant increase in odds for PTSD, while
reporting 5or more close friends/relatives was associated with a significant reduction in odds for
PTSD” (Phillips 5). The support of family and friends can make a huge difference in a Marines
life. Learning information like this through digital media outlets is just one of the many ways
that people outside of the community can become more knowledgeable about the serious subject
of PTSD in Marines and other service members alike. Family and friends supporting post-deployed Marines could be a very simple way to begin decreasing PTSD in Marines around the
globe.
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” (Robson). 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 (Carey). 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

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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 Marines alike are
still being mentally consumed by a disorder that researchers are trying to find a universally successful treatment for.
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
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 affected 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.

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Marines that attempt to receive PTSD treatment from psychiatric 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
service members 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. What we need is the
right medicine for you at the right dose at the right time for the right period of time” (Costello).
Dr. Kudler has worked with several men and women in all the branches of the military 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.
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 psychoactive 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” (Costello). Characterized as a more radical
approach to helping formerly deployed soldiers, Dr. Mary Vieten believes strictly in outdoor

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recreational activities for soldiers suffering from PTSD. Vieten takes former and active duty
Marines into the woods in groups of 15 - 25 and does 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.
Instead of taking multiple medications every day, 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 are treated and the number of service
members battling the mental disorder decrease.
Alternative medicinal programs try to bond post-deployed soldiers together in the great
outdoors but do not have long-term research to back up its effectiveness. Due to the circumstances at hand, to decrease the number of Marines and other service members with PTSD, their

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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 service members, 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” (Thompson). Without knowing how successful certain treatments are
for effecting Marines with PTSD, the solutions for minimizing the number of veterans and deployed Marines with this mental disorder will not be conclusive until further research.
The Marine Corps community has several problems with the increasing number of its
service members suffering from PTSD, and only very limited solutions. While PTSD treatments
are available for Marines, 60% refuse it, fearing their careers will be over. 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.
Research has shown that only 20% of Marines that receive psycho-active drugs and therapy recover from PTSD. With this small number, alternative options such as horseback riding, surfing,
and other recreational activities seem like the much more safe treatment for PTSD victims. The
Marine Corps and other branches of the military deserve the best PTSD treatment after sacrificing their lives to protect the nation, and people around the globe.

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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.
Hurt, Alyson, Erica Ryan, and JoElla Straley. "By The Numbers: Today's Military." NPR. NPR, 3
July 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 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.
Mosquero, Danny. Personal interview. 2 March 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.
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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Robson, 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.
Thompson, Mark. "The PTSD Epidemic: Many Suffering, Few Solutions." Time. Time, 20 June
2014. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.
Twiggs, Travis N. "MCA&F." PTSD: The War Within. N.p., Jan. 2008. Web. 15 Feb.
2016.