Do you have to be a combat veteran to experience PTS or PTSD?
No. And remember, dealing with PTS does not automatically mean that you have a disorder. Post Traumatic Stress, its more extreme sibling Post-Traumatic Stress-Disorder can be triggered by relationship loss, major life changes, job change or loss, natural disaster, child abuse, or even just hearing about a traumatic situation like a school shooting. The key lesson is that traumatic stress can be dealt with and should not be ignored.
Is PTS or PTSD permanent?
Not usually. Being the more extreme of the two, PTSD can become a lifelong struggle for some, usually when the nature of the trauma is very extreme or long-lasting (some combat veterans, somebody that was imprisoned and tortured, etc.). With proper help though, PTS and PTSD can usually be managed with counseling and some specific techniques like EMDR, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing/Management; sometimes people will get additional recovery from medication to moderate related depression and anxiety.
Should I try and get somebody dealing with PTS/PTSD to talk about what happened to them?
If they want to talk about it, they will, but generally speaking, it is not a good idea to get them to re-live the experience by describing it because it can re-traumatize them, and you may be traumatized by just hearing about what they went through. If somebody does want to tell you about their struggle, please be honest with them about your limits . . . it is ok to tell them that you’re concerned about them re-living it. You may consider directing them to a trauma specialist or counselor. Most of the time, this will not be an issue as folks typically do not want to get into details; they may, however, want to talk about how they are feeling and how they are trying to move forward. This is a great place to support them.