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.
I found a video of A Soldier’s Night Before Christmas. This brings tears to my eye.
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.
Don’t think our service men and women don’t sacrifice? Think again. Not only do they sacrifice themselves when they go off to war, but while gone, they sacrifice time with their family, missing out on birthdays, holidays, births, deaths, and special moments. They miss that first step their child makes, or the first word, or even the first day of kindergarten. From war, many lose a piece of themselves, some physically, some mentally, some both and some lose their lives.
While yes, we do have a volunteer military, and our loved ones volunteered for their country, they did so so yours wouldn’t have to. If not for the men and women who volunteer for the war they go to (justified war or not), those who don’t want to go, would be forced to do so.
So while you may not agree with their mission, you can still support the ones that fight. They are still owed our gratitude and our respect. They have sacrificed so much, and are asked to continue to do so. Isn’t it time we sacrificed too? For many, the scars are deep, and for some, invisible.
The support shouldn’t stop once they are home. Support our Vets should be just as big of a catch phrase and action as Support our Troops.
We lose 22 veterans a day to suicide. Shouldn’t it be time we tell them #youmatter?
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.
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.
One of the things I try to do is keep my own political views to myself, at least off my public sights concerning our veterans. One of the things I always remember my grandfather, and father say is you dont talk about politics (however this doesnt apply to them today, they are just like everyone else, freely speaking their mind about their views). We all have different political opinions, and unfortunately these types of conversation are rarely kept civil. Keep in mind, I am a Political Science major. Not because I want to be a politician, but because I want to “learn the game” to help our veterans and their families, however that leads me to helping them. The last thing I want to be is a politician, but do want the knowledge of how our system works, can lead me to finding ways to help.
With all of this said, I do want to bring up politics for a moment, but not for the reasons one might think. One of the things I see over and over again on the posts about the VA scandal is people who automatically begin blaming one political figure, one party or the other. STOP making veterans about the left or right. We lose 22 veterans A DAY to suicide. That is someone’s father, husband, brother, mother, wife, sister, friend. The number is likely HIGHER than that due to the lack of a streamlined reporting system, and only getting the numbers from 21 states. Our veterans issues not only affect the veteran, they affect the FAMILIES. These issues ARE NOT just a republican or democrat issue. It is AN AMERICAN issue. Stop trying to make it about blaming one or the other, and come together for the sake of our vets and their families. We have so many veterans families who are losing everything and many losing their loved one while people are arguing over who is to blame. JUST FIX IT, and put action behind “Supporting our troops.”
This type of point the blame attitude is the wrong attitude to have, and will not help our veterans. When we are so divided on this very important issue, very little will be accomplished to help them.