June Is National PTSD Awareness Month
Many of the best and bravest Americans are having a problem ... and most of the rest of us don't know it.
It's most commonly referred to as PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A fancy way of saying they've been hurt in ways that can't be seen. After the horrors of battle, the agony of seeing friends hurt or maimed, living in a constant state of high alertness, always being "ready" for "something", being seperated for long periods of time from their loved ones ...
(and lets not forget the everyday pressures that don't go away just because they did. Is my wife ok, can she pay the mortgage? Is my husband getting the kids back and forth to their doctor appointments? How's Mom dealing with Dads illness?) ...
putting it all behind them and getting back to "normal" when they've returned isn't as easy as it sounds.
I've seen friends and family deal with it first hand. Some get by ok, some are having a very rough time with it, some are kind of in the middle. Some are dealing with PTSD on top of more obvious injuries. Missing limbs, loss of motor skills and the scars ... each one with it's own terrible story. "Lost my leg to a mine", "paralyzed by an enemy sniper", "I got this when kid ran up to me ... holding a grenade". Those memories will haunt our soldiers forever.
The physical issues are so hard to deal with. The mental issues are even worse due to the fact that this condition is so very hard to properly detect and treat. Some suffer without even knowing it until one day, some little thing brings it all suddenly (perhaps violently) to the surface like an emotional volcano. Others deal with it ok, though they lose a part of themselves. Their sense of freedom affected because it's hard to hang out in crowds, or they can't tolerate being at fireworks shows. Maybe they can't watch war movies with their families anymore or sleep through the night without getting up to be sure no one has snuck into the house. PTSD shows intself in many ways.
I guess the worse part is just wondering when ... or if ... it's ever going to go away.
That and it's silence. They know somethings wrong but can't tell you what it is. You know somethings wrong but can't figure out what to do about it.
Thankfully, people .. including the military itself .. are finally seeeing this problem for what it is and trying to help. Trying to find ways to treat those who suffer from PTSD, ways to identify who is suffering and ways to help their loved ones as well. They have their own battle to fight in this ... and it's not an easy one either. Not by a long shot.
I got the idea to write this today after I read a story about a lady who found a unique way to try and get help for her husband. She has started a program I think many of you here in the El Paso area may find help or comfort in.
Between Ft. Bliss, Biggs, Holloman, the national guard units, White Sands ..... pretty much everybody knows somebody connected with the military. Due to the various "specialties" of our bases, almost all our local military people saw their combat in the middle east. Todays wars and the way they are fought seem to foster PTSD issues way more than past incidents have. That's my opinion, I could be wrong. All I know for certain is that this is happening to our heroes and we need to help them with it in any way possible.
(Those who aren't dealing with this or who don't know anyone dealing with these issues, can at least support the cause. Maybe there's a way you can help that you haven't thought of yet. Look into it!)
The lady in the story I read wrote a poem about dealing with her husbands situation that I added below. It's very touching. Again, the point of this blog is to try and let people know where the help for this is. None of you are alone. There is help for the soldiers and the families. I listed a couple of places below (thank you Alma!!) as well as the link to the story that prompted me to write this in the first place. I'm sure I probably missed some others so;
If you know of any other agencies, web sites, etc that offer help or advice; please put them in the comments below.
To find a PTSD therapist here in El Paso, click here.
Here's the poem by Ashley Wise ... read her story at yahoo.com.
"Broken by battle,
Wounded by war,
I love you forever,
To you this I swore:
I will quiet your silent screams,
Help heal your shattered soul
Until once again, my love, you are whole."
If that doesn't get you interested in doing whatever you can to help our soldiers and their families, nothing will.
Please comment on this blog with any organizations, phone numbers, etc, that you may have as far as ways to get help or learn more about PTSD.