While reading the newspaper yesterday, I came across a rather disturbing article. The Pentagon is turning to “Walmart therapy” to treat soldiers affected with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD is an anxiety disorder that occurs in people who experience traumatic events that involve the threat of injury or death. Like natural disasters, accidents, and war. According to the medical experts, symptoms fall into three main categories.
1. “Reliving” the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
- Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
- Repeated upsetting memories of the event
- Repeated nightmares of the event
- Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event
- Emotional “numbing,” or feeling as though you don’t care about anything
- Feeling detached
- Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
- Having a lack of interest in normal activities
- Showing less of your moods
- Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
- Feeling like you have no future
- Difficulty concentrating
- Startling easily
- Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you
- Feeling more aware (hypervigilance)
- Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
- Having trouble falling or staying asleep
In an effort to help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is pursuing the most natural and logical course of action: prescribing a shopping trip to Walmart! Their reasoning is that big-box retailers are often busy and noisy, and people may be hidden behind things. In other words, the situation is similar to what these folks would encounter in a combat situation.
Personally, I’d rather take my chances against Al-Qaeda.
I am not a fan of Walmart. In fact, I flat-out refuse to shop there. Call it a one-man boycott, a crusade against a corporation whose business practices leave much to be desired. They monopolize the marketplace, lowering their prices initially in order to drive local retailers out of business; once the competition is gone, prices creep up. They buy enough of a product to become the major source of income for that supplier, and then use their clout to force the supplier to lower their prices, leading to a push for overseas labor in order to remain competitive. This has happened to companies like Heinz, Vlasic and Levi’s. They mistreat their employees, in particular discriminating against women, and have penalized those who have attempted to unionize. At least they’re making a valiant effort to go green – I’ll give them credit there. But it’s still not enough to get me in the front door.
Plus, People Of Walmart dot com. ‘Nuff said.
Which is not to say I have an issue with anybody else shopping at Walmart. My parents go there. Tara does, too. And a lot of my friends. Much like politics and religion, those are individual choices and I’m all about having the freedom to decide for yourself who to patronize. My mom has, on occasion, served me dinner, only to announce midway through the meal in a conspiratorial whisper, “Sorry, Mark. These rolls are from Walmart.” My reply is usually something along the lines of, “They’re delicious!” And then she’ll mention how cheap they were. I get that and I respect that, and I ask her to pass me another one, please. Which I spread with butter that also came from Walmart. I am not one of those self-righteous do-gooders who will pester people to join the cause or like this or dislike that. I am content in knowing that I didn’t contribute any money toward them, so the overseas yeast manufacturer earning thirty cents an hour can’t blame me for his poor working conditions, at least. I am an idealist, but also a realist. People are going to shop there because the prices are low, and in this sputtering economy, I really can’t blame them.
Plus, it would be rude to turn down a roll.
So, the idea of this PTSD Walmart therapy is pretty unnerving. If I suddenly found myself smack dab in Aisle 6, I think I’d be even jumpier than usual.
And quite possibly end up with the very first documented case of WSD – Walmart Stress Disorder.
- At War Blog: For Veterans With Post-Traumatic Stress, Pain Killers Carry Risks (atwar.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Did stress of combat tours trigger U.S. soldier’s rampage? (seattletimes.nwsource.com)