There is something to a military spouse. The resilience, strength, and ability to adapt to change at a moments notice is something we as military spouses have, and continue to have, if not more so, after our loved one comes home. We have a bond and connection to one another even though we dont know one another. We have that knowing of “I’ve been there” empathy towards each other, or “I can only imagine what you’re going through”. We are a small community, and can even say family. We are one of a kind.
One of the things I am finding important is coming up with a safety plan. It it is a good thing to have, and discuss with your spouse. I was recently given a blank safety plan to fill in/tweek with what will fit us. Once complete, it will be printed out, and put up in certain areas of the house to remember what is to happen if we get to that point where we have to draw the line. Below is the blank safety plan that I was given, and was told I could share. Please feel free to save it, and create your own. For us at the end I will add at the end what will happen if none of the items listen help, which likely means inpatient is the result.
I often see questions from civilians who do not have a loved one that is a vet or a service member, what can they do to show they support the troop by more than simply saying it.
As the spouse of a veteran with PTSD, here are some of my suggestions.
Get involved – Many communities are creating organizations to touch on military and veterans issues.
If you are in a church, find a way to create programs to help vets and their families. For example, create a children’s night. Have a safe place the parents can drop the kids off, knowing they are safe, to give the kids a chance to play with other kids, and a chance for mommy and daddy to reconnect.
If you are a pastor, educate yourself on PTSD, and get training so you can help those in your congregation that may be suffering.
If you own a business, hire a vet.
If you are a professional (Dr., psychologist, therapist, lawyer), offer pro bono work to veteran’s and their families. Many vets and their families are going without healthcare. Many need a lawyer because they have gotten themself in trouble, or they have family issues, or need help with appeals, ssi or initial filing.
Find ways to help them. Find out what their needs are. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to. Be there for them. Some are coming home to no help or loved ones. Try to become a friend to them. There are many ways people can help. When you say we support our troops, don’t just say it, but mean it.
The last suggestion I have is, educate yourself on invisible wounds. Help us raise awareness, and join us in fighting for them. Write your congressman and senators, demanding action. Demanding more help, and for them to start showing their appreciation for our vets. Find out which politicians are against veteran’s benefits, and NO MATTER WHAT PARTY THEY ARE IN, VOTE THEM OUT. We do not need politicians up there who want to take away the little benefits that our veterans do get. They have no business in Washington. I dont care what party they are in.
Here is an interview my husband and I sat down to last year whenever I was first starting the local peer to peer support group. We stepped out in faith and outside our comfort zone.
We met with Laurie, from Channel 3 here in Hampton Roads, to participate in an interview to raise awareness and inform those in our area about the support group I am starting, PTSD, and its effects on the Veteran and their family.
In doing this interview, it was not easy for either of us. When you put yourselves out there, you are worried about judgment from other people. Hesitation is what the devil wants. The devil will try to hold us back as much as he can. I realize this is not about us, but helping others through what we have gone through. I do not want any other spouse to feel as alone as I did. We had to step out of our comfort zone, and step out on faith, in hopes of helping others who are going through what we have gone through.
This powerpoint presentation was given by our guest speaker, Tabitha Sierra, M.A. at the November 19th Wives of PTSD Vets and Military of Hampton Roads, VA peer to peer support group meeting. She has given me permission to share this.
I remember when we first started the process of getting my husband into the VA, my husband’s case worker gave an analogy to describe PTSD. PTSD is like a pickle. You can take a cucumber and turn it into a pickle, but you cant take a pickle and turn it back in to a cucumber. There are several types of pickles; dill, sweet, bread and butter, “wickles,” etc. It is up to the person to decide what “type of pickle” they want to be. You then learn to love the taste of the pickle, but it will never be a cucumber again. That analogy has stayed with me. I know that my husband is forever changed, and the person who I knew is gone. He still has parts of him remaining, but he is forever changed. Learning to accept and love the “new pickled” him has it’s challenging moments, but I still love this man with all my heart, who he was, and who he is now, “pickled” and all.
Something I have found myself doing as of lately, is telling my husband what to do, instead of asking him. After the behavioral issues we have dealt with over the past few years, I have found myself treating him as though he is my third child, and at times, it doesnt help things. In fact, it can hurt. I know for myself that I dont like being told what to do, like I am a child. Why should my husband be any different?
One of the important things I am finding and having to remember is he is still an adult. It is a hard balance going between behavioral issues, back to good, and having to learn to trust his abilities again. I can honestly say I dont know that I will ever get back to not having questions about behavior, or decision making, but for the sake of our marriage, I have to learn not to treat him like a child, and TELL him what to do. Asking him to do something goes a long way, along with a please and thank you thrown in there. It comes down to respect, and I respect my husband