Dear Mr. Kander:
The first steps in overcoming a problem are to recognize that the problem exists followed by resolving to overcome it. Congratulation on taking those steps.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, I do not believe you have a disorder. After all, by definition, a disorder is an “abnormal physical or mental condition.” I would hope your reactions to your military experiences would be considered normal and human. When you think about it rationally, what we as a nation have been doing is putting young people in exceptionally challenging and frightening situations, asking them to engage in horrific acts against other human beings, and then calling it a disorder if they do not quickly forget all about what they have done and revert to a noncombatant’s view of “normal” demeanor once they are physically out of harm’s way. Does that really make any sense?
Given your standing as a recognized former public official and veteran, it seems to me that you might be well positioned to help others make progress toward recovering from the same condition that has impacted you. There may very well be active duty personnel and veterans who are reluctant to take the first steps to recovery because they are fearful of acknowledging that they have a disorder that might be seen as a weakness.
I encourage you to use your bully pulpit to attempt to persuade the military, the VA, the medical community and politicians at the federal level to begin referring to the condition as “suffering from post-traumatic stress.” In doing so the “disorder” label could be eliminated. This should not be a hard sell, other than resistance from people who are simply averse to change.
This is one of those public policy initiatives that does not come along very often – it has almost no downside risk and great upside potential. While many people might view this as being a small change, it would be huge to any who have been denying their condition and who might, as a result of the labeling change, be willing to seek help.
Best wishes from a Vietnam combat veteran for success in dealing with your condition.