Arming commanders to combat PTSD: A time for change – Attacking the stressors vice the symptoms


Arming Commanders to Combat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder by COL Robert D. Haycock, US Army, 53 pages. Just as war is not a new phenomenon, neither are the issues associated with the mental and emotional scars combat brings to those who fight a nation’s wars. Historically, the United States has assumed a reactive vice proactive posture as it relates to coping with the fiscal, and humanistic challenges that manifest within a nation at war, and those who experience the trauma of combat. The Army has proven slow to respond to the need to train and educate its leaders and instead has devoted vast capital on the assessment and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attacking the symptoms as they arise, vice attacking the stressors which cause the affliction. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the deployment of forces throughout the world to combat terror, however, have created conditions whereby PTSD is again in the lime-light. This monograph examines PTSD from a historical perspective reviewing the manner in which the Army viewed, assessed, and treated those afflicted with PTSD as well its methods for training and educating those honored with the opportunity to lead these warriors in battle. This monograph highlights existing shortfalls in assessment, training, doctrine, and education as it relates to those commanding at the battalion-level. The Army does not properly prepare battalion commanders for the complexities of coping with PTSD in their units nor arm them with the tactics, techniques, and procedures necessary to mitigate the effects of PTSD on the combat effectiveness of their units and the soldiers that fill the ranks. The Army should implement more rigorous assessment programs for units deployed to identify those at risk of PTSD or demonstrating stress-related symptoms before the mental well-being of the soldier is dramatically affected and treatment becomes more difficult. Further, the Army should review and update existing doctrine and training techniques (Battlemind training) to focus specifically on commanders at the battalion level. The Army must demonstrate a linkage between doctrine, training and education, enhance efforts to consolidate PTSD resources for ease of access, and revise strategic communications procedures to reduce stigmas associated with PTSD. The Army must arm its tactical commanders with the tools to address the stressors associated with PTSD in order to preserve the force and ensure its effectiveness in the ambiguous and complex environment which appears to best characterize the way ahead.






Robert D. Haycock

Original Work Citation

Haycock, R. D. (2009). Arming commanders to combat PTSD: A time for change - Attacking the stressors vice the symptoms. School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas



“Arming commanders to combat PTSD: A time for change – Attacking the stressors vice the symptoms,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed April 11, 2021,

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