PSAD: Post Service Adjustment Disorder
A Different Perspective on Why a Veteran Falls Apart
Daniel E. Valdez
Archway, Bloomington, Indiana, 2018, 114 pages
Book Review published on: April 19, 2019
Daniel E. Valdez, a veteran marine, shares his story along with the testimony of other veterans about the difficulties he encountered after leaving active duty service. Valdez premises his book, PSAD: Post Service Adjustment Disorder, A Different Perspective on Why a Veteran Falls Apart, by stating his theory of post service adjustment disorder (PSAD) is in the infancy stage, but that he was a victim of the disorder.
The book begins by describing basic military culture from a Marine Corps’ point of view. With this explanation comes some explicit examples of enlisted military language and behavior that civilians may find offensive or difficult to understand. Valdez highlights this behavior to demonstrate how the military culture is unique from the civilian lifestyle, and how military personnel readying themselves to leave active duty for civilian life do not realize the drastic changes they will encounter.
Valdez spends the rest of the book describing PSAD symptoms and how it occurs as a veteran immerses himself or herself in the civilian world. He highlights some pertinent factors that can contribute to PSAD. One such factor is financial management. Valdez points out that basic necessities such as shelter and food are provided to enlisted military members during their term of service. However, the reality in the civilian world is that most finances are expended for basic necessities. Many veterans find themselves unprepared, as budgeting may not have been a priority during their military term of service. Another catalyst for PSAD is how a veteran may have trouble relating to civilians, who may not understand how a veteran acts, speaks, or makes decisions due to their unfamiliarity with military culture. As a result, some veterans are unable to adjust to civilian expectations, which can lead to isolation.
Perhaps the most poignant example the author provides of this potentially devastating illness is the testimony of a mother who lost her son to suicide. She believes that Valdez’s theory has merit due to the unique aspects of PSAD, which accurately described symptoms her son exhibited after leaving active duty service.
Due to the extreme statistics of veteran suicides over the last fifteen years, Valdez argues that common disorders such as posttraumatic stress, adjustment disorder, bipolar disorder, and social phobia may not accurately capture the symptoms of PSAD or address this disturbing malady. Valdez emphasizes that PSAD affects both combat and noncombat veterans. The major premise of Valdez’s book is that veterans are ill prepared to adjust to the civilian world, and even though agencies like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are doing critical work with combat veterans, PSAD is something that has not been properly researched and thus remains largely unaddressed.
I recommend Post Service Adjustment Disorder because Valdez highlights a unique disorder that can potentially affect every service member regardless of branch or combat experience and could be a contributing factor to the high suicide rates among veterans since 9/11. If changes within the Department of Defense and outside agencies could better prepare veterans for transition and mitigate the onset of PSAD—and ultimately suicide rates—then Valdez’s theory deserves to be investigated.
Book Review written by: Gregory P. Bedrosian, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas