By Kate Wiltrout
© November 5, 2009
After more than eight years of war, most Americans know that PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, say military and medical experts, as well as warriors whose minds were scarred by combat, it’s time to learn some new acronyms. The second day of a two-day conference on building resilient warriors wrapped up Wednesday in Norfolk with a suggestion that the “D” be dropped from PTSD. It’s normal to be stressed out by trauma, one combat veteran explained, so why label it a disorder? His suggestion was endorsed by one of the highest-ranking men in the military – Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Addressing the conference by speakerphone, Mullen told the 400 attendees that he now uses the term “combat stress” instead of PTSD. He changed his vocabulary, he said, after a service member told him the word “disorder” creates a stigma for sufferers – even as the military is encouraging troubled troops to ask for help. The conference was sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence For Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury. A Department of Defense entity with an unwieldy name, the organization aims to be a one-stop shop for professionals and military personnel battling back from brain injuries and combat trauma.