Dear Dr Phil, Veterans are NOT Monsters!

Dear Dr Phil, Veterans are NOT Monsters!

Dear Dr. Phil,

I watched your show for the first time today.  I watched it because I was told it was on the subject of  Combat PTSD. While I am glad to see that you are willing to bring the issue of combat post traumatic stress to light, I have some serious concerns about the way in which you have done it.

For starters, I have to ask you why you felt it appropriate to entitle your episode  “From Heroes to Monsters?”    Monsters???? Really, Dr. Phil?  I would think that you would be  aware of the fact that there is already a dark stain of stigma associated with post traumatic stress.  You claimed that you wanted to help bring attention to the problem and ensure that our veterans get the help and care they rightfully deserve, yet you call them monsters.  Exactly how is that helpful?

Now every misinformed civilian out there is going to use your show as one more frame of reference to validate their fear that veterans are crazed lunatics ready to go out on killing sprees at any moment.  It is my opinion that you have just slapped the stigma stamp right across the forehead of every veteran who returns from war and I don’t think that’s fair because our veterans are not monsters!

While rage, nightmares, and flashbacks are certainly symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress, they are not the only defining factors, and most veterans with PTSD are not violent.  I think it was wrong of you to show only one aspect of this problem.  You shared three stories on your show, and all three of them involved couples who were dealing with violence and rage. You even threw in the extremely dramatic story of the veteran who set his wife’s legs on fire.  Sensationalism always sells, but you are selling the wrong message.

Our veterans are NOT monsters!

I am painfully aware of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress.  My oldest son, a combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps, lives with PTS.  While I am the first to admit that he can certainly lose his temper, I can tell you that he is not violent and I have no reason to be afraid of him. My son is not a monster!

You have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, so there is no reason I should have to list the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress here for you, but because you failed to include what are probably more common symptoms, I feel compelled to list some of the other symptoms that you omitted.

Isolation and avoidance
Difficulty expressing feelings
Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty sleeping

Any of these symptoms, especially when combined with others, can be life-changing and even debilitating in some serious cases, but they don’t produce a monster.

As a veteran’s advocate, I have met and worked with many veterans who live with post traumatic stress. Not one of them is a monster.

The past four years have been very difficult for our family.  We have gone through more than one crisis with our veteran.  Our lives have been forever changed and I count each of us as a casualty of war, but I can promise you that my son is no monster!  He is a hero!  Not only did he serve three combat tours, but he now faces the demons of life after combat daily.  Despite the broken VA system, the labels, the stigma, and the lack of understanding from the civilian world in which he must now live, he keeps moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other every single day.

Dr. Phil, in closing, it is my suggestion that you change the name of your show.  I think  ”From Heroes to Healing” would be a much better title  since these brave men and women are learning to live with combat injuries and trying to heal the hurt.  Just get rid of that “monster” word altogether.  Don’t sell your soul for a catchy title and good ratings.

I was going to strongly suggest that you make a public apology to all veterans for your insensitive title and your tunnel-visioned presentation of post traumatic stress.  After thinking about it further, I’m demanding that you apologize!  Your show did far more to further stigmatize our returning combat veterans and you did nothing to properly educate the American people.

You have a national platform.  You should use it to honor our veterans, not label them.



  1. Pat DeHaven says:

    Shame Shame on you Dr. Phil~!!!!!

  2. kathleen says:

    Very well written post. I also am the mother of a veteran and am sick and tired of the stigma that is being put out over our heroes in this area and others. Maybe Dr. Phil should consult with those who work with these folks, people that would have steered him clear of this kind of sensationalism. Of course that is what he is about, the media is not looking for the truth, but ratings. I would love to see him apologize due to your post, he owes it to all those who selflessly serve whether they have PTS or not. I like the way you used PTS, getting rid of the D, it is not a disorder, but a natural reaction to unnatural circumstances. Thank you for defending the Military Family.

    • Beth says:

      Thank you for your support, Kathleen. I don’t think Dr. Phil can ignore the outrage in the veteran community. He would be a fool to do so. I often fall back to using PTSD out of habit, but I do think we need to drop the D. As you said, it is not a disorder. It’s just the natural and normal way anyone would react to the trauma of combat. Please tell your son that his service is greatly appreciated. Your service is appreciated as well. We don’t enlist, but as family members, we definitely “serve” as we support our hero!

  3. Lee Bowden says:

    Thanks Dr Phil this is just what I needed for my self esteem. Thanks for your support, I will never forget it.

    • Beth says:

      Lee, even though I don’t know you, I know you served our nation on behalf of people like me who you don’t even know. You are a hero. Dr. Phil is the monster! Anyone who would label our veterans just to get ratings is a loser in my book. Hold you head up and remember that you are in the 1% who had the courage and guts to serve in our military. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

  4. Sue Kirk says:

    I am so in agreement with the fact that Dr. Phil really screwed up on the title of this show. I have been taking care of my son for 2 years now and although he has PTSD and injuries he got while seving in Iraq. He is NO MONSTER!! These troops experienced so much over there that he is not getting and for a so called Dr. to call our soldiers Monsters is not very ethical as far as I am concerned. Thank you for the letter demanding Dr. Phils appology I do not think he did our troops any favors at all. I could not have said it any better .

  5. Erin says:

    My husband is still away and I have merely heard the things he has seen and been through but I am not afraid he is going to become a monster from it. What I am noticing is my husband is learning to be grateful for what he has and to not take life for granted anymore. I agree that an apology is demanded. Don’t isolate veterans from the civilian world more then they already are, they deserve more respect then that.

    • Beth says:

      Exactly! Dr. Phil has just given our veterans another name to shame them and send them into further isolation. Many thanks to your family for your service and sacrifice. Please tell your husband he is much appreciated!

  6. Mary Ann Kinman says:

    Beth, your words are so perfect. Your family, your son, and your organization are regularly in my prayers.

  7. janis says:

    Excellent letter Beth. I was busy attending a conference on integrating veterans back in to the community. Dr Phil needs to do his homework and talk to all of us who know a whole lot more than he seems to know. That certainly didn’t help! I didn’t see the show but the title is outrageous. I agree that the examples he used do not reflect most who suffer pts….what callous disregard for the sacrifices of our military…it is discouraging but keeps us aware we have a long fight ahead of us and we are not going away!!!

  8. Karen Stewart says:

    I did not see the show but if what Beth has described is true – shame on you Dr. Phil. Are you personally trying to set us back 40 years to the VietNam era? I agree you OWE every veteran an apology!

  9. Theresa Martin says:

    Well said…thank you!!

  10. airman says:

    im pretty sure that dr phil didnt mean it in the way yall are thinking im sure he know every bit of what ptsd is and what the issue is with it he has a phd for crying out loud. im sure he was simply putting it in a way that the millions of people that dont have any experience with ptsd cause million and millions of people who havent had any experience with it believe it is a made up medical condition his point was to simply bring the issue to light and show that it is a real condition and it is a very serious condition that needs to be helped only .1% of the US population is military thats not that many family members that are having experiences with it that leaves millions and millions of people out of the loop and calling it a made up diagnosis come on people give the guy a break

    • Beth says:

      If Dr. Phil wants to take on the responsibility to educate the millions of Americans that our out of the loop, he needs to think carefully about how he labels our veterans. He just taught everyone that our veterans are “monsters” and that is simply not true. If he didn’t mean it that way, then he should not have said it that way. Dr. Phil has a Ph.D., but he probably doesn’t live with a veteran who has combat PTSD. If he did, he wouldn’t have called them monsters. It isn’t Dr. Phil who deserves a break. It is our veterans who deserve one.

  11. I’m so discouraged that I’m only hearing about this today, a month later. Amazing how some people can get away with anything because of their status…shame on Dr Phil. This should be all over the news and public outcry etc. Maybe if enough of us keep sharing it will

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