Working Together for Treatment
I have often wondered why this is an issue for both men and women in the military. I have never served in the military so I don’t know what it would be like to always be on my guard and paranoid of attack and learning to suppress my feelings and taking orders all the time. I can imaging for Veterans that it must be difficult to adapt to civilian life after years of service. In my line of work I get the privilege of working with Veterans everyday and sometimes it comes up in conversation. So what is going on to help deal with this situation?
Let me refer to an article that was published in Utah to help Veterans specifically to help deal with PTSD.
Dozens of Veterans are up in Park City for a week-long retreat, and they all have a few things in common. They all suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans back from war are invited to an outdoor retreat to meet others who are also dealing with the memories of war and dealing with PTSD. It can be intense for the Veterans, but its also a lot of fun! They are learning how to breath again and relax. Veteran Erika Vandenberg said, “In Iraq and Afghanistan you were on alert all the time. You didn’t know who was your friend or enemy, so you were always on alert”. These Veterans can’t sleep and they’ve shut people out. “Anxiety around people, being in a crowd, I still have issues with that” Vandenberg said.
The Veterans participate in team-building exercises, learning how to trust and cope with civilian life again, now that they are out of the military. “Being in the Marine Corp. for six years does a lot to you,” said Veteran Rodriquez. “You have to hide a lot of emotions and feelings”.
This retreat is a big step for those Veterans who attended and I can imagine that they all want the lives they had before they left for war.
There are things like this going on all over the country and there are support groups that are here to help those who continue to defend our freedoms.
WHAT IS PTSD?
- You have reoccurring flashbacks and/or nightmares
- You avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma you experienced
- You have a heightened state of arousal or anxiety that makes it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep
- You have trouble controlling your anger–this may or may not include aggression or violence, you just feel a lot of anger
- You are hyper vigilant–meaning, you are almost always on the alert, looking around, watching other people, etc. as if you were expecting some kind of attack or crisis
This does not only affect the Veteran but it also affects their families too. I know that there is help for this and I also recognize that some Veterans would not take advantage of that help because they might feel inadequate in admitting they suffer from the symptoms mentioned above, especially if they have learned to reject or “hide” their feelings due to the nature of how they have been trained. The bottom line is this – you cannot let this go and it must be dealt with when its recognized. A Vietnam Veteran named Randy Vest said it took him 30 years to finally get life back to normal. This is probably an extreme case because of how the Veterans were treated after the Vietnam War. The point is, the sooner a Veteran gets help the sooner life gets back to normal. Look at it like this – Its just like combat, you don’t quit in the middle of it. You just keep going until the mission is accomplished.
I didn’t want this to be taken as a charity plead for Veterans, I am simply point out that there are things being done to help our countries Veterans who suffer from PTSD. Many Veterans don’t have PTSD and as far as I know there is no clues as to determine why some do and some don’t. For those Veterans that don’t then please offer your friendship and advice to those that do. If you are a Veteran that does then please contact your local Dept of Veteran Affairs and they can help. Norman Schwarzkopf said “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it”
Good luck – we are with you all the way.