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William Gonzalez

Professor Malcolm Campbell
English 1103
February 16, 2016
Topic Proposal: Combating the Ghosts
Introduction/Overview
The topics that interest me are Post Dramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the causes of it,
and the current medication and treatments being used. More specifically I will be researching the
cases involving military personnel coming back from warzones in Iraq and Afghanistan. The
basic definition of PTSD is, a mental disorder that is developed when people are exposed to a
traumatic event. This can be anything from a car accident, witnessing a loved one dying, being
verbally abused, to being in combat.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 11 percent of veterans coming
home from the war in Afghanistan have PTSD. This number has been steadily increasing as more
veterans come forward than ever before. This means that there are a large number of veterans
who do not report their affliction. I have personally discussed this with many soldiers and the
answers tend to be similar, they do not want to ruin their career. I have several personal sources
of soldiers who are still in active service or have been recently separated that I will be
interviewing. In the preliminary questioning that I have done I have noticed a stark contrast in
the possible causes for PTSD in soldiers. Most of the research that I have done, including the
basic definitions, claim that it is caused by a traumatic event. For soldiers this would most likely

be getting into a firefight, being the victim of an IED, or maybe seeing a friend or complete
stranger die. But this does not match up with the personal interviews I’ve had with veterans.
Instead it has more to do with the act of coming back home and being around loved ones again.
Most would actually prefer to go back to the combat zone. I will be diving deeper into this to see
what superficial research could have missed, and try to get an unfiltered insiders perspective.
The increased number of soldiers coming forward with PTSD means that veterans are
more comfortable with admitting it. While this is initially a good thing, it will undoubtedly also
lead to an increase in fakers who will be drawn towards the disability benefits. The current
system is forced to take the veterans word for it. There will need to be changes in the criteria for
benefits, or a change in how they are diagnosed if the VA is going to be able to keep up with
costs and get the help to the veterans who actually need it. So the question here would be, what
physical effect if any can be found in the brain to prove PTSD.
Medication has been in wide use with PTSD cases, but the results of the successes and
failures have not been properly recorded. Soldiers that I have talked to about their experience
with Prozac or other medication have reported mixed results. Some claim that it helps them stay
level headed when they start to drift back towards dark thoughts. Others say that while it does
help with depression, it also leads to insomnia, which brings about different kinds of problems.

Initial Inquiry Question(s)
The first question I will be looking into will be the pre-military factors that may affect
veterans going to war, and there susceptibility to PTSD. Next I will look into the actual causes of
PTSD. I think that the current lists of causes may be too generic, I will be getting personal

accounts of soldiers to see if there are other less known reasons that may have caused PTSD. I
will be comparing the personal accounts to the clinical causes to see if maybe it could be a
combination of several factors.
The question that I will be spending most of my time on will be the current medications
and treatments being used. First of all what medication has been tried, and how have the success
rates been? Once the soldier starts taking prescription drugs, how long does the medication
usually continue? Are there currently any long term prescription drug treatments or are they
primarily used in the short term?
I will also look into the psychiatric side of treatment for PTSD. Specifically looking into
prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization and
reprocessing, virtual reality exposure therapy, group therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy,
family/couple therapy, and psychosocial rehabilitation.
My Interest in this Topic
As a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, and a scout sniper in an infantry
reconnaissance platoon who has seen my fair share of conflict, I have a very deep personal
connection to this topic. I have dealt with mild to moderate PTSD since redeploying at the end of
2013. I also know soldiers who are dealing with it much better than others, and even more who
are not dealing with it at all. My goal is to find hope for soldiers coming home with this serious
affliction, and help to spread that hope with factual information about effective treatments. I also
hope to help educate the general populace about this mental disorder, and get rid of the negative
stigma that haunts veterans looking for a job after separation from the service.

Next Steps
I will use the library to find book and articles about the many different treatments of
PTSD. Looking specifically for clinical accounts of how these treatments actually work and their
success rate. I will also be pulling from my personal resources to get a more timely account of
how PTSD may be evolving or changing. I will be examining statistics about the issues from
sources such as The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and comparing them to individual
cases to see if they are as accurate in my specific job field.