It doesn't take long for Americans to turn a mental health condition into a punchline.
If we keep our desks too neat, we joke that we have obsessive-compulsive disorder. If we space out during a meeting, we lament that we have attention deficit disorder. And, increasingly, if we had a bad experience somewhere, we joke that it gave us post-traumatic stress disorder.
It's generous to describe these as jokes, since they aren't that funny. But regardless of what you call them, they show that many of us still have a lot to understand about how post-traumatic stress disorder works and who it affects.
In fact, following the example of many military groups, I will simply refer to it as post-traumatic stress, because "dropping the D" — as President George W. Bush suggested — may help reduce the stigma around it, and highlights that normal, healthy responses to a traumatic situation should not be referred to as a disorder.
The first myth is that post-traumatic stress is somehow crippling. Researchers from the Center for New American Security interviewed executives of 69 leading corporations. They all said that hiring veterans can be good for business, but a majority of the companies identified post-traumatic stress as one of the risks in doing so.
Further, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 42 percent of companies that had hired veterans in the preceding 36 months considered PTSD and other mental health issues to be an impediment to hiring veterans.
I'm lucky that I've been trained on post-traumatic stress, and feel comfortable openly discussing it, thanks to a wonderful counseling program run by the nonprofit organization Give an Hour that I participated in after I suffered a catastrophic injury while serving in the Marines in Iraq.