Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder will continue to be a major concern for the survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, as well as the police and emergency responders in Newtown, Connecticut, long after the eyes of the nation have turned away from this devastated community.
The 26 dead at Sandy Hook did not board a magic school bus for a field trip to Heaven. They did not transform painlessly into cherubs with gossamer wings. They died horrific, painful deaths at the hands of a disturbed young man armed with guns, firing hundreds of bullets.
The teachers and children who survived this nightmare will never forget. The police officers and emergency responders who entered this blood-soaked charnel house will never forget. The medical examiners and morticians who handled the bullet-riddled corpses will never forget. They will never erase these awful sounds, smells, and images from their minds.
I've sat at the bedside of many aged veterans whose wars were long behind them. The wrenching memories still came, still shook them at unexpected moments. This will happen in Newtown, Conn. -- months from now, years from now, decades from now.
PTSD continues to have its doubters and naysayers, even after Vietnam, even after Sept. 11, even after Iraq and Afghanistan. These willful critics are guilty of the most damnable ignorance. PTSD is real, it is painful, and it is life-altering.
A stunned, horrified plea was heard on an emergency frequency in Newtown when the sickening scope of the slaughter at Sandy Hook was discovered, "Call for everything." It is long past time that our systems of care, as well as our community and political leaders, issue the same urgent call to address the deep and profound impact of PTSD.
We must call for everything.