Old Glory

Thursday, July 25, 2013

PTSD, Suicide, And OUR Military...

I'm actually taking the title to this post from a very special blogger (and Gold Star wife) to help bring awareness to a very big problem and one that is very close to my heart.  "A Little Pink in a World of Camo" states this issue very well so I don't want to take anything away from her so please visit http://alittlepinkinaworldofcamo.blogspot.com/2013/07/ptsd-suicide-and-our-military.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ALittlePinkInAWorldOfCamo+%28A+Little+Pink+in+a+World+of+Camo%29 and read her words. 
What I will mention in this post is that my heart aches for these men and women that return from combat and struggle with this silent "killer" and/or silent disease that truly takes over and controls their worlds.  Many times they don't even realize that is what they are dealing with until they have struggled for months and even years.  Typically what I am understanding from those I'm the closest to is that it is the families that notice these signs/symptoms first, but most don't know how or if they should confront their loved one. 
The worse thing any of us can do is turn a blind eye to this epidemic (and I truly believe that is what it is now based on the number of veterans we have re-entering the civilian life).  If we choose not to acknowledge or embrace these young men and women they will get lost and potentially even worse end their lives as a result.
What I'm learning about PTSD is that our men and women that have it are either feeling or being treated (or both) like it is a bad thing and negative.  The only time I believe it is bad or negative is if we choose to ignore it and do nothing.  We want to educate the world so that these young men and women get the help they so desperately need and deserve without putting a negative stigma on them. 
In doing some research of my own (very elementary I might add), I came across a doctor that really shed light on this epidemic.  Her name is Dr. Heidi Kraft and she is a clinical psychologist and former Navy Lieutenant Commander and she saw the effects of war on service members first hand during a tour in Iraq.  Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis.  It is an anxiety disorder that is based on a person haivng lived through or experienced a trauma and then at some later point experiencing some symptoms based on that traumatic memory "Dr. Heidi Kraft".  Please take a moment to check out this interview with her on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofs9np3yraQ and you will understand much more than I can tell you here.
I do believe my fellow blogger from "A Little Pink in a World of Camo" said it very well when she said this is OUR problem as a Nation and WE owe it to these service men and women to do all we can to help them and in a small way re-pay them for their service and tremendous sacrifices they have given for all of us.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, this is very close to my heart.  My son served right along side some amazing young men in the USMC and I know these men are struggling.  I know they must suffer from some degree of PTSD.  Some will acknowledge it and seek help and others will not.  I do believe that they are trained not to show weakness, but I'm here to tell them now, seeking help for this is not a sign of weakness, but just the opposite.  It takes tremendous courage and bravery to admit you need help and then see it through to get the help you need.  After finding the YouTube interview with Dr. Heidi Kraft and reading more about her I sent each of these guys that I knew how to reach a letter explaining that if they were experiencing any of these symptoms or feelings to please not ignore them, but seek help for it.  I pray they are all doing just that.  They owe it to themselves, their families, and their fellow and fallen brothers to live the best life they can live and they can't do that if they refuse to seek help for this. 
This is real and this is nothing to be ashamed of.  You will read her words, but "A Little Pink in a World of Camo" said, "If you aren't shaken by war and what you see there, then that is crazy" (I paraphrased that to a point), but she is correct.  You cannot see and experience what these young men and women see and experience and not be effected by it.  With that being said, why is it that there tends to be such a negative connotation linked to that diagnosis?  It shouldn't be.  This is the very least we can do for these men and women that sacrifice so much and some that sacrificed all for us.
Please, stand with us America!  Let's take care of our own as they are and have and will take care of us!  I challenge you to be a part of the solution!  Are you up for the challenge?  If you are, don't merely talk about it, but do something.
You might wonder what you can do.  You can start by educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of PTSD and encourage a military member to seek help, but more than that, make sure they know and believe that it is ok to seek help and there isn't anything "wrong" with them for coming forward.  Then just love and support them every chance you get and above all else, pray for them!  These young men and women are amazing people and they know loyalty and sacrifice.  Why let that character and all that goodness go to waste when they can offer so much to society, employers, and communities.  Let's not let this happen.
To all our service men and women, past, present, and future, you ARE appreciated and I thank you from the bottom of my heart and you can reach out to me any time if you need someone to talk to.  I owe you at least that much.
God Speed to each and every one of you and for our Gold Star Families!