Veterans Dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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 nightmaresPost Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • 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.

Why I am grateful for Veteran’s Service

Around Memorial Day every year I get a bit reflective.  Did you know Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, it was a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.  Now a days of course it is a day to remember all those who have gone on before us.  And certainly there are many, many veteran’s who have served valiantly and are still with us today.  But I think that is why I am so reflective during this time of year.   Perhaps we are all familiar with John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  I think we can all agree that those who have died in the service of their country, have died defending their friends, comrades in arms, or friends at home.  That is what is so remarkable to me about our nations veterans.  They are willing to put their life on the line so that others might live free.

Since I was a young boy, I had heard stories from my Father, a Captain in the Army, about WWII and the greatest generation.  I was always very impressed by what what these brave young Americas and the armed forces had done to free Europe.  Many paid the ultimate price to see freedom won.   I vowed one day I would go there to see the beaches of Normandy myself.

cemetary Finally in 2003, after two years of planning, my desires to travel and  see the beaches of D-Day were fulfilled.  I walked the 5 landing beaches of the Normandy coast, I saw for myself where these events took place and was awe struck.    I am sure you have seen photos of The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial as well.  No words can express how I felt standing in the crosses of nearly 10,000 who are buried there.  The price paid, the cost in life and lives lost that I felt there, never had that that phrase greater love… meant so much.  Many of the graves we looked at were very young 20-somethings.   I felt grateful that there have been, are now and will continue to be men and women of valor and honor who serve as members of our military.   I can say with sure conviction that I was forever changed that day.  After spending 6 weeks in Europe, seeing the sights and so on I longed to return home.  Traveling is fun, but it is exhausting and I missed my home.   I remember boarding the plane that would take me back to the States and I thought how there may not even be a Europe to have visited if there wasn’t America, and brave veterans who fought a good fight;  Some never came home, others did but they were changed.   I try to feel grateful everyday for my freedoms.  To come and go in this land of liberty as I wish, crossing state borders and such with no papers or fanfare.   I am saddened, even disgusted with those who don’t honor and treat our veterans with respect and admiration for their service, their sacrifice.  They obviously have no clue as to the freedoms they have and surely take for granted.   Paid for by the sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears of those they mock.

I feel it a privilege to work with our nations veterans on a daily basis.  Putting together financing for their own “American Dream” of homeownership.  If anyone has earned it, they have.

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