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.
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.
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
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.
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.