12 May PTSD, Who Cares?
So what’s the stigma about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or as it is commonly referred to as PTSD? Better yet, what’s so taboo about learning something important in helping understand what our soldiers have experienced while deployed or training for war? When they get “home,” shouldn’t we embrace them and try to help? I don’t honestly understand where the disconnect is, but maybe the problem lies in actually facing the ugly truth of what happens when you put a weapon in a human’s hand.
While interacting with my fellow veterans, I have come to realize the only difference between us what part of the country we come from. We talk in a similar language. We have similar backgrounds and military experiences. We all love our country and what it stands for. The pain lies in being disregarded as broken, viewed as different and pushed to the side for doing what we all were asked to do.
Veterans don’t ask to have nightmares, as sleep is a premium for them; nor do they ask to feel lonely. Recently, a veteran came to me in need and asked to talk. I am not a psychologist by any means, but I am a peer and a loving person who knows the value of human interaction to someone in pain. I spent two hours talking with him and it was a healing process. It’s always the little acts of kindness that make all the difference, often between life and death.
Please think about that.
So what is “PTSD” and why does it matter? As described by the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is defined as the following:
“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don’t have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD. Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.”
(Mayo Clinic, May 11, 2016 @ http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/basics/definition/con-20022540)
This is what PTSD looks like. It is not pretty and people don’t want to talk it. However, wherever you are, you are surrounded by veterans going through this. Do we see them or do we have on blinders?
The quality of life of someone who has gone through a traumatic experience is not easy. The veteran doesn’t need isolation. Rather, he or she needs respect, love and be nurtured. We are losing this battle because we are not engaged nor taking this tragedy seriously. We have a duty and a responsibility to care about the health and welfare of our veterans. We have a moral obligation to go beyond the standard set before us. Who, seeing a man or woman in the street, walks by without regard for their wellbeing?
Here are seven (7) steps we can take to do a better job:
- Educate ourselves on PTSD
- Take the time to be a part of the solution
- Volunteer your time
- Make a lifelong veteran friend who you did not know before
- Give more than you take
- Make a job accommodation for a veteran in the workplace
- Have compassion and understanding