AlloySevenVideo—Bryant Chambers, a former platoon leader in Iraq back in 2003—never got formally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. But that doesn't mean war can't haunt him in some ways. That's where games come in, as he talks about in this video.
"I honestly never thought I had any issues until several years after the event," he explained to Kotaku in an email. Thankfully, in addition to finding an outlet in games like Battlefield 3—which, amongst other things, provides a sense of brotherhood similar to what he experienced in combat—Chambers also found much support within his family. " I was fortunate enough to have a strong family unit that included a father and an older brother who fought in combat (Vietnam and Desert Storm in order)," he said.
"I left active duty shortly after the war and took a job as the Director of Operations and Deputy GM at Union Station here in DC. The tempo of that job didn't really give me a chance to mentally or emotionally process my experience," Chambers recalled. "Once I took a more mellow job I started to notice that some of the symptoms I outlined in the video were present in my life. My mom recommended a website for soldiers returning home that was a great help in getting me to understand why I was feeling what I was feeling—especially the "numb and unresponsive" part.
"On a more practical note, the process the Army has in place for separating soldiers is FAR more advanced and sensitive to the PTSD issue than they were when I left. They basically told me to "have a Coke and a smile," he said.
Chambers notes that despite not being diagnosed, he did seek out counseling—which he recommends to any soldier who wants to work through the emotional strain of combat.
The Reddit thread which brought Chamber's video to our attention also had some folks discussing their experiences using games to cope with PTSD. A sampling:
IAmTheBADASS: I am military, I have not been diagnosed with PTSD, however I get ticks and anxiety a lot. I play video games, mostly FPS and they disappear. My fiancé even noticed that once I play I am not on edge anymore. So I even get time to play when she's home.
nuevakl : I get the same way. Never noticed it until my SO pointed it out to me. Gaming for some reason calms me down, only problem for me is i cannot play a game for more than 20-30 minutes before i need to change games because that restless and anxiety sensation crawls up on me again.
AcidMobius: I'm glad he can put this into words because I couldn't. PTSD is a struggle with yourself and your past, everyone copes with it their own way to mend back into society but Battlefield 3 just happens to be my way of doing so as well. Brothers in Arms till the end.
Game Therapy - PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) [AlloySevenVideo]