Old Glory

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When a Heart Breaks

I had the honor (I guess you can call it that) to chat with a mom who lost her son to PTSD recently.  I know right where she is right now.  She is in a fog.  She is just going through the motions of life and probably not even sure how she got from point A to point B at times.  My heart breaks for her.
I've been doing some research and reading and studying anything I can get my hands on about PTSD so I can hopefully be of some help to these young men that are now my bonus sons.  One of the things that I've learned is that it is common amongst almost all of them is that these young men and women don't really know the words they need to use to express what they are going through.  They can't really tell you what is wrong and for the most part, they have been taught to be so tough that asking for help when things just don't feel quite right would be a sign of weakness to them.
I would like to take a moment here to speak to those young men and women that might (hopefully) be reading this.  It is never a sign of weakness for you to ask for help or merely tell someone close to you that you don't know what it is, but you just don't feel quite right or quite yourself.  This is the first step to healing and getting the help you need to live a full and successful life.  You can't do this on your own.  I would also like so say that your family sees a difference in you at times, but they don't know how to help or how much to step in.  Give them permission to love you enough to help you.  That's all they want to do.
I can't speak for other people, but as a mom, it is hard to watch your child struggle and not know what to do or knowing you can't do anything to help them.  It's a terrible place to be as a parent so help them out by letting them in.
As a parent, you can't always know what is going on with your child inside their minds and hearts.  They have seen and experienced things in their short lives that most of us will never experience or understand.  They probably don't even understand it themselves so how could we/you possibly understand.
All we can do is be there for them and let them know that it's ok and that there isn't anything you wouldn't do for them.  
The other thing I have noticed is these young men and women are more likely to reach out to each other before even family.  I believe they do this because they know they are the only ones that really get what they are going through as they lived it with them.  I would encourage you guys, if one of your brothers comes to you and shares their heart with you and you believe it is enough that they need to speak to someone professional, try to find a way to let someone know.  We don't want to see any other family lose a child because of this war either in action or as a result of this silent disease PTSD.  
I also believe in my heart that these young men and women worry more about being a burden on their loved ones and I think that too keeps them from sharing.  In addition, I have to believe they don't discuss their experience of war with most (if anyone) people, because they don't want to re-live that experience and maybe they are afraid if they talk about it, it will become too real again.  
I'm not an expert by any means and I'm certainly not a very intelligent person, but I love these boys my son served with and I have watched and listened to them and I have a true burden on my heart to help them and the parents of our fallen heroes that won't allow me to stop thinking about this.  I need to do something, but I don't know what.  I can promise you that I will do all I can to figure that out and to promise to do all I can to make sure there is a difference made even if it is just one person.
If you are a parent of a service member, you know how tight this band of brothers is and I for one love seeing that closeness.  Here is a picture that was taken in CA after a much needed cookout with Tebo, myself, and just some of our new bonus kids and while they aren't all in this picture, I believe this picture gives you a glimpse into how much they love each other and I believe it is a love that will carry on for the rest of their lives.  Enjoy these smiles.  I know I do every day.
The Mountain Dew Gang.  :)  5-25-11 in CA at Camp Pendleton
Most everyone wearing a Mountain Dew t-shirt in honor of Chad!

He sure loved this t-shirt...  :)