Well as a lot of you know I have a son returning from his deployment in Afghanistan. JB is an Infantryman for the Army. Front lines all the way. As a mom, And as a parent I felt compelled to learn more about PTSD. Here is a breakdown of what I learned, I hope this information helps you,.. help others that might be affected.
First I wanna be clear that just because you may not have a loved one coming back from over-sea's that its not worth concerning yourself over. It does concern you, the Soldier's affected by this lives in my neighborhood and yours. hes at your local supermarket, hes at your local church. He's going through a personal battle and not only needs our support, they deserve our support.
Second I want to address an issue that has been brought up by one of my neighbors. (You know who you are)The issue of a statement that was made,.."Those Soldier's are trained to handle that stuff " relating to our Soldiers over there seeing his brothers killed. Funny, I never seen that in my son's Military play book. I'm sorry but unless your an insane, killing, devil worshiping, monster, Their is no training to just get over it. People who make those comments are ignorant. Perhaps they are the ones that's really desensitized.
1 out of 5 Will suffer from PTSD
Let's look at some facts, 1 out of every 5 Soldiers returning home suffers from PTSD. They say it is 9 times more likely if they have served in Afghanistan or served multiple deployments in Iraq.
Over the past few weeks of anticipating JB's return from Afghanistan I read 100's of articles and watched many videos of Soldiers speaking about PTSD and stress related disorders due to being deployed.
Every Moment, Every Corner
The news reports the causalities and wounded. They show bombings and explosions that leave us here at home somewhat in awe. But in reality its the Soldiers that sees, hears and even smells the destruction. Did you know some Soldiers who came home says that a steak thrown on to a grill reminds them of the smells of burning flesh
They speak of how every moment, every corner they turn or every car that goes by could take their arm, their leg, their life. day after day, month after month, and some even years. A soldier medic talked about having to bag fellow brothers that were killed and the anger that over whelmed him when he ran out of body bags. Another medic spoke about how he had wounded civilians mainly children on his chopper in route for medical care and durning his flight he received notice that he had to pick up wounded Soldiers. He knew there wasn't enough room on board so he had to unload those he had on his chopper and leave them to die on a mountain side,..children. Other Soldiers were sent to remote posts that still have blood stains from past ambushes that took many of our Soldiers lives. A constant reminder that US Soldiers were ambushed and killed and it could be them this time around. Then theirs Soldiers who are ordered to blow up a building because they contain Taliban's, they heard screams of horror like they never heard before, they enter the building,.they just blew up kids and the one survivor is the mother of those kids.
Note - The kid's get killed because the talibans seeks refuge in houses of locals, not due to mis information on out Soldiers part !!
A Lot of Soldiers suffer from survivor guilt. One story really stuck with me. A grenade was thrown towards a Humvee and one 19 year old Soldier threw himself on the grenade, he was killed but saved 4 of his comrade from death. There is many of these stories on you tube that will impact you like nothing else has before.
Stress-er for our Soldiers is their families they leave behind
Another big stress-er for our Soldiers is their families they leave behind. Young unmarried Soldiers worry about their moms back home, married Soldiers worries that their spouse will cheat. Divorce rates are at their highest and its no wonder - marriages are hard enough as it is but when a Soldier is deployed again and again some on their 6th tours, definitely explains it. Also a lot of soldiers miss out on their children being born. Anxious and excited to see their babies when they get home only to find out they cry and scream because the baby sees them as strangers, not Daddy.
I am not sure what my son has encountered or what he has seen or what he was asked to do. I don't know how the war has affected him but I feel I'm ready to handle it and help him along the way.
Signs of PTSD
Here are some signs to look for when your Soldier comes home.
* Frequently having upsetting thoughts or memories of certain events.
* Re-Accruing night mares.
* Flashbacks - Acting or feeling as if the event was happening again.
* Having strong feelings of distress when reminded of events.
* Being physically responsive such as having a surge in heart rate and sweating.
* Making efforts to avoid thoughts or feelings regarding the events.
* Having a difficult time remembering important parts of the event.
* A loss of interest in important once positive activities.
* Feeling distant from loved ones and friends.
* Experiencing difficulties having positive feelings such as love, happiness, etc.
* Having a difficult time sleeping and staying asleep.
* Being irritable and having outbursts of anger.
* Difficulty concentrating.
* Feeling on guard like they are still in danger.
* Being startled easily, being jumpy.
If you think you might have PTSD or have a loved one needing some help I encourage you to contact your local VA hospital or the Veterans Center which can be found in your local phone book. There is also a toll free number that will assist 1-877-222-VETS. Also I want to mention the VA has many (Community Based Outpatient Clinics).
Alcholism, Drugs and Suicide
Another huge problem that affects many returning Soldiers is alcholism and drug abuse. Suicide rates have risen. Infact I was reading one story that will forever stay with me. A Soldier was telling how they got a shipment of new men in and within hours the camp was ambushed. He said he looked over and one of the new men that was their for only a few brief hours took his gun and shot himself in the head and ended his life. I also want to mention that a lot of them commit suicide after returning home.
How you can help
So how can you help someone who might have PTSD ?
Support them, say thank you and let them know the sacrifices they made were appreciated. Show patience and empathy. Encourage them to talk but don't expect them to talk. Let them know just because the may have PTSD they are not weak, or unworthy of being honored.
For more insight regaurding combat stress I highly suggest checking this out,..
"When Our Troops Come Home" Free Ebook for friends and family who want to understand and reconnect with thier loved ones.
Please watch the video below. It really puts things in a new perspective. Life at home is hard for returning Soldiers. Show them compassion and tolerance. Remember what they have been through.
Last Thoughts, Last Requests
One last thing I'd like to mention, for the wounded, recovery and treatment begins in the hospital. They need EXTRA support, encouragement, and love. Please send thank you letters and cards wishing them a speedy and sucessful recovery. Get others involved. Its amazing what these cards do for moral and stamps aren't that costly.
Send to :
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center - It is the largest American Hospital outside of the United States and is where the majority of our wounded Soldiers are directly transfered to from the battle ground. Wounded Soldiers arrive daily and theirs just not enough cards or letters available to these Brave Hero's.
Wounded Warrior Ministry Center
APO AE 09180
They also are requesting Burger King certificates ( There's a BK near the hosp.) and International calling cards so they can talk with loved ones from home.
A New great place to find Support & Encouragement
Operation PTSD :
Operation PTSD was newly founded by Jason Ream. Jason is a Dessert Storm Navy Vet who has dealt with PTSD for the last 17 years and is a advocate for others who are affected by PTSD. Operation PTSD has been a fast growing community where many are finding help, inspiration and a forum where Vets with PTSD and their families can not only get together to support one another but to discuss what treatments work and which ones that don't. A New great place to find Support & Encouragement.
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