IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

PTSD is not a disorder, says Medal of Honor winner

Ty Carter - Jane Timm - 08/30/2013
Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ty Carter is seen leaving the National September 11 Memorial in New York, August 29, 2013.

Post-traumatic stress is not a disorder, it’s not a syndrome, it’s a natural reaction, Staff Sergeant and Medal of Honor winner Ty Carter said on Friday’s Morning Joe. Calling it a disorder or a syndrome creates a stigma that only hurts the soldiers who need to deal with it, he argued.

“If you just call it stress, what it really is, it explains the fact that it’s a natural reaction to a traumatic experience,” Carter said. “It’s our body’s and mind’s natural reaction to try and remember and avoid those situations.”

Carter was awarded on Monday with the nation’s highest award for courage, the Medal of Honor. During a 2009 daylong battle with Taliban fighters, the battle of Kamdesh, Carter braved a storm of bullets to rescue a wounded soldier.

President Obama praised not only Carter's battlefield bravery during the medal ceremony but also for speaking “openly, with honesty and extraordinary eloquence” about his struggles with post-traumatic stress.

The trauma service members experience is constantly relived and remembered, in uncomfortable places and positions, Carter explained.

“You start tearing up because the pain of living through that experience, again” he said.

It can be profoundly isolating, too, Carter said, as so few people have experienced the trauma soldiers face to be able to discuss it.

“You love your wife, you love your family, but sometimes you don’t want to talk to them, so you don’t want to put them through what you’ve been through,” Carter said.