MALE DISPOSABILITY – PTSD and someone who is in a position to attack the stigma around it


Do you know why US Army Rangers wear panty hose? Supposedly they do wear panty hose, (though I haven’t gone and checked.)

Simple answer: Panty hose are the most efficient form of long underwear available.
Real answer: Because they can.

A soldier at Joint base Lewis McChord, SSG Ty Carter, is in a similar position, in this case in a position to champion sufferers from PTSD and to attack the stigma associated with it.

Do you remember that scene in the movie “Patton” where Patton is visiting a field hospital and comes across a soldier in a ward with what was then called “shell shock”? He queries the soldier about his wounds and when he finds the soldier has no physical wound, he starts slapping the kid, like he’s some kind of malingerer. He calls him a coward. Even at the time that was considered way over the line, so the next scene is him personally apologizing to every enlisted man under his command. In fact he was relieved of command over the incident, which is the most severe punishment you can inflict on someone like him. But Pattons’s behavior was of a piece with his chivalric conception of war and still a very pronounced strain in the culture of the time.

Nowadays it isn’t generals who hold such backward beliefs about male disposability, or even old blowhards at the VFW or American Legion. Maybe you still hear middle-aged women sniffing about how these soldiers should just man up and suck it up and quit sniveling, but maybe the stigma comes for something more than male disposability, come to think of it. Come to think of it, the stigma may be part of the stigma around mental illness, that mind is closer to what we are as individuals are than the body is, so mental illness is more threatening than physical illness. Whichever it is, there is a real and deep stigma around PTSD.

SSG Carter has decided to make PTSD awareness and acceptance his personal mission:

Carter hopes that while being in the spotlight as a Medal of Honor recipient, he will also focus on post-traumatic stress, and bring more awareness to those who struggle with it daily.

“I want to try and get rid of the stigma of post-traumatic stress, because there are a lot of Soldiers out there who have it, and are ashamed to talk about it or get help,” said Carter. “With my experience with it, I can take a Soldier and just talk one-on-one and explain to him that it is not going to be easy, and it will take a while. But you will improve and you will do a lot better. You just need to go get the help you need.”

SSG Carter can do this because as a Medal of Honor awardee, he can come out and say he has PTSD without anyone questioning his courage or fortitude, so maybe male disposability and the man-up meme are active enough in this to matter after all. And if that’s true, that’s wrong. If it takes a Medal of Honor to bring this out in the open and get these people treated with dignity and compassion, and shut down the loudmouth cowards, that says nothing good about this society.

Jim Doyle
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Jim Doyle

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="3493">3 comments</span>

  • I wore pantyhose when I was in the field. It’s not so much ‘long johns’ as it is very good at preventing skin parasites, like chiggers and ticks, from infesting your skin. And it’s not just rangers, pretty much any solider who goes out into the field will use them.

    As for the PTSD, I’m glad he’s doing something about it. I didn’t see combat when I was in the military, but I had a lot of Vietnam vet friends and lots of them were still walking-wounded even in the early 1980s.

  • MosesZD,welcome!

    I never thought about insects and chiggers! All my field time was either Germany, Yakima in the high desert or the Gulf War – showing my age – and bugs were not the problem.

    I am glad to see that the use of pantyhose has spread to the wider force. That’s the triumph of common sense over cultural norms.

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