On June 27, 2022, the National Center for PTSD is launching National PTSD Screening Day, encouraging Veterans and others who experienced trauma to start the conversation about recovery. Learning whether you have symptoms that might be PTSD is an important step to getting the treatment you deserve.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident or sexual assault. While most people experience trauma, not all of them develop PTSD.

After a trauma, it’s common to relive the traumatic event, avoid reminders of it, have more negative thoughts and feelings, or feel on edge or on the lookout for danger.

People who experience these symptoms longer than a month may have PTSD. While the only way to know for sure is to talk to a professional, like a primary care doctor or mental health care provider, there are self-screen questionnaires for PTSD.

“The message we want to share about PTSD is one of hope,” says Dr. Paula Schnurr, executive director of the National Center for PTSD. “PTSD is treatable and it’s a normal response to trauma, not a sign of weakness. If you have PTSD, you can get help. Taking a PTSD self-screen is a step toward recovery.”

What is a PTSD screen?

A PTSD screen, or screening questionnaire, is a short set of questions. The screen helps you understand if your feelings and behaviors are related to PTSD. One screening questionnaire is the Primary Care PTSD Checklist, or PC-PTSD-5. The PC-PTSD-5 is only five questions. After confirming you experienced a serious trauma, it asks how that event may have affected the way you’ve felt or acted in the past month.

After taking the PC-PTSD-5, you add up your “yes” answers. If your score is three or more, you may have PTSD. The next step is to schedule an appointment to speak with a health care provider.

If you answered yes to one or two questions, and are bothered by your symptoms, you can still make an appointment. A health care provider can help you make a plan to manage the things that continue to bother you since the trauma.

“Screening is an important first step, but it’s just the beginning,” says Schnurr. “Anyone can get PTSD. And everyone can get treatment for PTSD.”

Next steps & helpful resources

While June 27th is PTSD Screening Day, the PTSD self-screen is always available, so you don’t need to wait. If the results of your screen suggest you may have PTSD, you’ll need to find a mental health care provider. There are Veteran-specific services at every VA Medical Center. And if you’re not sure how to start the conversation with a provider, you can tell them you completed a PTSD screen or take a copy with you.

If you’re not ready to reach out to a provider, there are resources that can help you learn more. The Understanding PTSD and PTSD Treatment booklet is a good place to start. You can also hear from Veterans who turned their lives around with PTSD treatment at AboutFace. The Veterans who share their stories on the site have been there.

Maybe you are concerned about a family member or friend. If you’ve noticed symptoms of PTSD or a change in behavior, you can encourage them to screen for PTSD or support them as they go through treatment for PTSD. The Understanding PTSD: A Guide for Family and Friends booklet may be helpful.

Family and friends great source of comfort and support

“Oftentimes family and friends will notice a change in a trauma survivor, and they can be a great source of comfort and support,” says Schnurr. “It’s very common for Veterans to enter treatment because of their family.”

No matter what type of trauma you experienced or when you experienced that trauma, treatment can help. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD, take the self-screen and reach out to a provider today.

As Army Veteran Penny Anderson notes, “Regardless of how you may have gotten PTSD, you have the ability to go and get help. And to do that, you’re going to set yourself free. You’re going to have the life that you deserve.”

Visit the National Center for PTSD’s website to learn more about PTSD treatment, PTSD Awareness Month, and PTSD Screening Day.

By Rebecca Matteo is a medical sociologist and web content manger at VA's National Center for PTSD

Share this story

Published on Jun. 1, 2022

Estimated reading time is 3.7 min.

Views to date: 2,381

19 Comments

  1. Phil Four June 28, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    Looking at the bottom of this page… skill testing question required. I didn’t realize that I was on a Canadian sweepstakes page. Maybe I can win a million dollars if I get the question right? I think I have a better chance of becoming a Canadian citizen…

  2. William B Stanford June 24, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    I was told I’m not that kind of vet and was given 10% for my
    PTSD

  3. Santiago Rapolla June 24, 2022 at 12:49 pm

    I was diagnosed with PTSD by a VA counseler but was denied compensation or any treatment do to I had a bad conduct discharge !!! After serving 14.5 years. I did get 10% for my hearing but they would never up grade it and I continue to lose my hearing slowly. It was a prejudice factor when I was court martial and seems to still be the same. So it is what it is we never have a say just do what your told.

  4. Roy Ivey June 24, 2022 at 1:22 am

    You must be joking! The VA oy wants to know if you are thinking of harming yourself or others!
    Tried twice to talk to with VA Social Workers to no avail. Who cares? Noone.

  5. David Johnson June 23, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    Maybe your experience with the Army and the VA will be better than mine. I was officially called a liar and when I asked for help nothing ever came of it. They claim to have a good success rate, but I suspect that most of us are like me, we just gave up trying to get help from the VA. That seems to be called a success for them.
    In my case my service did not cause my PTSD. Nam ‘69.

  6. John McFarland June 23, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Sad Reality—-millions claim they have PTSD from combat- never were in combat- but receive a free tax payer check for there false claims. Yet those like myself wounded while in an infantry combat unit in VN, still screams when someone comes up behind me or startles me unexpectedly- gets ignored by the VA— sad reality.

  7. C M Wms June 23, 2022 at 9:15 am

    After avoiding assault/rape for 23 years in the military, I was assaulted by the VA provider who did my Gyn exam for my retirement.
    I reported him. Nothing happened. Oh, something did happen…they reduced my disability by 5% which was for Gyn reasons.
    I was able to stay busy and not think about it for 18 years… but then Covid.

  8. David Harksen June 22, 2022 at 11:41 pm

    I didn’t see combat. I’m a veteran. I watch my wife die, they left me in the room, I watched the doctor stab her with needles, Shove thingsdown her throat,shock her body arching from the shock . I got her eyes to close. But I couldn’t keep her mouth shut.

  9. Jessica June 22, 2022 at 11:33 pm

    Would love to know when the VA will start covering PTSD for vets that was refused treatment while active duty. Want allowed to go to any counseling because it “took up the Army’s time”… just because I’m great at masking doesn’t mean I’m doing well

  10. Ray June 22, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    Yes Katie you are absolutely right about that I was diagnosed years ago and all they did was to drug me. I was even given Seroquel in increasing doses until muscle cell death started.

  11. Robert Thomas Blanchette June 22, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    When is PTSD screening day? Where are these screenings taking place?
    The article lacks content!

  12. X-abian Montsho JAHi June 22, 2022 at 9:04 am

    What if your PTSD came from maltreatment by the military, itself? I was targeted and browbeaten for a year at a naval hospital base in Portsmouth (in collusion with Norfolk), VA, just for reclaiming an Afrocentric name. I was ousted even after beating them pro se at a kangaroo court, then they used an AdminSepBoard to oust me. I think the pentagon was going full-blown pro-queer, in the 1990’s.

  13. Gerald Zynda June 2, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    If the results of your screen suggest you may have PTSD, You’ll need to find a mental health care provider. In other words as usual the VA isn’t going to do crap for you!

    • John June 22, 2022 at 8:49 pm

      Fact.

    • Jennifer Diaz June 22, 2022 at 9:28 pm

      I am a bit too sleepy

  14. Joseph Gray June 2, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Much later, I becamed very guilty by realizing that l had been flying senior US civilian and government officials to US terrorism camps where prisoners were kept in “tiger cages” and subjected to torture.
    Meanwhile l was enjoying myself the local beaches. It was the wrong decision when l now realize I.should have notified senior civilian and military officials. It bothers me that I.was so uncaring.

    I also lost my three best flight school friends plus two other unit acquaintances while I didn’t have even one problem when flying my combat missions.

  15. Anthony Favorito June 1, 2022 at 11:31 pm

    Good Read

  16. Luis Miranda June 1, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    Want to how much a month

    • Katie June 3, 2022 at 1:08 pm

      Even if you are already diagnosed the by the VA they will NOT help you. If you show up at a VA hospital and tell them you are suicidal they send you home. Thankfully we were able able to find outside help for my spouse at a treatment facility that ended up pro bono because the va denied all claims. It’s sad. The VA talks a big game but denies all treatment and VA disability claims for ptsd and traumatic brain injury.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Rena Dugat’s daughter died at 34 from ovarian cancer. She escaped the darkness and despair by volunteering and then competing in the Houston Golden Age Games.

  • Learn about the many benefits of eating breakfast. Here are fast, healthy and easy breakfast ideas.

  • Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers has expanded to now include caregivers of eligible Veterans of all service eras.