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.
Channel 3 interview
Channel 3 interview – Web Extra
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.
Code words. This is something my husband and I found that works for us.
We came up with a word that was totally random that we could use when he would begin to get into his angry rantings. This was used to diffuse the situation, and for him to know he needed to chill out. He would walk away and cool off. The word we use is acorn. We haven’t had to use it in a while. As the rages slowly went away, we would use it in other ways, if one of us were to go off into a drawn out rant about one thing or another and needed to cool out. Lately we haven’t found the need to use this code word, as we are both learning to communicate again. Please note that is an everyday process, and we still don’t have all the answers.
Another word we use is “noted.” We use it when I am saying something he doesn’t necessarily want to hear, which is usually about getting back into therapy or something to do with his health. So I know he hears me and understands, but doesn’t want to talk about it, he says noted. This way I back off, but I’ve at least said what I needed to. In doing this particular code word, I’ve also had to gage his moods, and know when I can approach certain subjects and when I can’t.
It has all been a learning curve, figuring out what works for us, and what doesnt. I’m still learning, and at times, adjusting. I don’t claim to know everything. In fact I know very little. I only know what we have gone through, what we have tried, what works and doesn’t work for us. Everyday it takes hard work. Sometimes when life is moving so fast you can’t catch your breath, it is easy to forget. I’m human and I make mistakes. But the key to that is learning from those mistakes, and changing it so I don’t do it again.
My parents always told me, in life, nothing comes easy. I never understood that until going through all that we have. Life isn’t a fairy tale, and it isn’t happily ever after. Life is about learning and hard work. Relationships take both. Love isn’t always enough. Learning to work together, instead of against one another has helped us. But it is one day at a time, one step at a time, taken together. I know there will be misteps, but it is taking from those misteps to try and make sure they don’t happen again.