This interview was done in 2013 before the start of the first Families of PTSD Vets and Military Support group in Hampton Roads VA. I found someone had placed this on Youtube, so I am sharing it, hoping maybe it will help someone else out there.
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.
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.
Do you ever feel like you have switched placed with your spouse? Somehow, someway, you have completely switched rolls, and in some ways, personality.
My husband and I simply put, have switched roles. My husband at one time was the take charge, take the lead type of guy. He would make sure business got taken care of, no matter how uncomfortable it was. Thoughtful and decisive, he made decisions. If there were bills that needed to be paid, he paid them, even if it meant not having money left over. He was ambitious, and dreamed of the future. He was positive, and upbeat, always having a laugh or a smile for someone. An impeccable memory, he was able to remember the smallest detail. Anyone could tell you that my husband could also talk forever. He loved to talk. It was his “thing.” Above all he loved to talk to new people, and travel, experiencing a new place, new people, and new adventures. I was complete opposite of that. My memory was horrible, although I love to talk, I wasnt one who met friends easily, being more reserved and quiet. Suffering from anxiety, there were times I stayed at home, not wanting to go out. Avoidance was a big thing for me, avoiding anything that was difficult, and having little ambition, or dreams.
Now, today, he and I are completely opposite of the way we once were. He hangs back, lets me take the lead and take charge. He waits for me to make a decision, or is hesitant in making his own. Conversations we have are forgotten days later. Medical appointments, dental appointments, are now up to me to make, and go with him so they are remembered/kept. I’ve had to help become his memory. We avoid crowds, and stay home a lot. When old friends are seen, my husband is now more quiet, more reserved, almost seemingly deep in his own thoughts. The laughter comes occasionally, but not like it once did. Some days, he spends his time in our bedroom, away from the world. Those are the bad days. Sometimes they come several days in a row, sometimes they dont. Plans are rarely made, for fear of them being broken. Invites are politely declined, to the point they are now rarely asked. Very few understand.
This isnt to say there arent good days. I see a smile, hear a laugh, and we actually venture out into the world. He works 5 days a week, which helps with consistency, and purpose. He takes care of the kids, giving him routine, and there again purpose. There are days, that I see he needs sleep or help. I help get our daughter to out the door to school and take our son to school to help him out, even though I will be late to work. Days where I have had to take off, in helping him, just by being there. Some days the kids and I have to go out without him, and some days he joins us. At times, we have several good days in a row.
With all these changes, I’m learning to find a new normal. Settling into new ways. Over the past few years, things have been chaotic and all over the place to say the least. The past year however, since my husband has gotten on a new medication, has been better, and we are settling in a “new normal.” Our new normal isn’t what I ever envisioned, but then again, life never is. I know some days I have to pick up the slack, and on most things take the lead in getting them done. It isn’t to say he does nothing. He tries every day. He tries for us, and some days I can see it is a struggle for him. It isn’t something I can describe. Those days if we are able, I leave him alone, and let him sleep. The kids, they keep him grounded, give him a purpose, and help him through “the darkness.” I’ve learned (although, don’t always abide by) how I communicate with him,, and when to communicate something, and when to wait. This is the beginning to our new “normal” life that we are still figuring out.