Our service men and women that are diagnosed and suffering with PTSD are not the only ones suffering. Have you ever stopped to think what this does to their family and close friends? Moms and dads have to watch their child suffer and feel there is nothing they can do. Spouses watch and many times are pushed away and feel helpless and abandoned. The children of these service men and women don't understand. All they know is mommy or daddy is different now and they just can't figure out why and there is always that chance they may even blame themselves.
We as a Nation owe it to these service men and women and their families to do all we can do to help them. It could be a simple card/letter, an encouraging word, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, anything. It doesn't even have to cost you money or that much time. It would be amazing to these folks that are suffering just to know there are people out there that do really care about what they are going through.
I can only imagine how alone each of these people must feel at times and I think that is what breaks my heart the most. I would never want them to think they have no one to turn to.
It has been my experience so far that many of our service men and women suffering chose to suffer in silence for several reasons (I believe). One, I believe they don't want to burden their families any more than they feel they may have already done. Second, I'm not sure they know how to take that first step and just open up. Third and probably most importantly, I believe they view this as a weakness and they have been trained not to show weakness and to be brave and strong at all times. This makes me sad.
They have been trained physically and emotionally to be protectors. How can they lean on someone else, especially family and friends, if they continue to feel it is their "duty" to protect them? I believe many of them feel this way. I could be wrong, but based on the ones I've talked to, I don't think I am.
Stop and think how these parents must feel. I will speak specifically about the moms as those are the ones I've actually spoken to so far. They not only feel helpless, but they feel a since of failure and abandonment. You might ask yourself why since they didn't cause this. Well, speaking as a mom, it is our job to protect and care for your child regardless his/her age. I know for me, it wouldn't have matter how old Chad was or if he were married (which he was) or how many children he had (which were none), I would have still done anything and everything to take care of him and make sure he was healthy, happy, and just ok. I believe all moms have that in them, always.
As for spouses, can you imagine? First, the love of their life is different and sometimes very different than the man or woman they married. They want to continue to love them and help them through this and feel helpless I'm sure. Think about it, they know their spouse is different and sometimes someone with PTSD can be mean, certainly angry at times and depressed. It may take them months or years to figure out this is the issue. Can you imagine what a toll this would take on a marriage and sadly, I'm afraid, most don't make it through this. It takes a mighty strong couple who are determined despite anything thrown their way, they will make this marriage work. However, I can tell you, that is easier said than done when you feel there is no way out or no help for the situation.
There is hope and there is a way out. There are so many organizations out there willing and waiting to help. There are support groups not only for the service member, but for the families as well. Please take advantage of these resources. If these organizations are anything like our Wings for Our Troops, they are desperate to help. We long for the next service member to send home and when we go months without one request it gets disheartening. I am certain that is how these other organizations must feel.
I was recently told that there is a military veteran that is looking into a business to train dogs that can sense when someone is about to have an episode or show symptoms of PTSD and will prompt the service member to take his/her medication. Now I also have to tell you that I have yet to find such an organization out there, but I will continue to look. I did, however, find that there are PTSD dogs that have been trained to be companions and they are seeing that it helps the patient cope when he/she has one of these dogs. I'm not much of a dog lover (ok, not at all), but if this is something that helps our service men/women suffering with PTSD, I'm all for it. I have a few links below that you are welcome to check out and see if any of these are a fit for you.
By all means, if you are a service member and you have been diagnosed or feel you may be having symptoms of PTSD, talk to someone. If you don't want to speak to your family or friends then find someone else. I am an email or post away and there are so many out there with open arms ready to help lift you up. That is certainly the first step in truly getting the help you need to live a long, healthy, and happy life. You deserve it!