Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Silent Epidemic..

Tonight something is weighing heavily on my mind and heart.  Tonight on our VOW blog talk radio show we were supposed to interview a hero, a combat veteran that suffers from PTSD.  I was looking forward to hearing someone speak openly about their struggles with something that isn't really talked about.  I was hoping to gain another soldier's perspective in hopes that I could take something, anything away from it and maybe use it to help my own husband who struggles with PTSD and more than he likes to admit.  It seems like that was not to be tonight because unfortunately this soldier who was lined up to speak is instead mourning the loss of his best friend to PTSD and suicide.  You see whoever his friend was, he was a hero too and yet he lost his battle against those demons.  I do not know who this soldier was, but he was more than another statistic, yet that is what he will be seen as by most.  Why is it that American's see PTSD as some kind of disease that they might catch?  Why do we allow there to be a stigma associated with it? What can we do to continue to raise awareness and see that changes are actually made and carried out?  What will it take for more American's to guinuinely care about what is going on with our Service Member's and Veterans?  Sure it is easy to slap a sticker on your car saying," I support our troops", but how many actively do? I think we would all be dissapointed to know the truth on that one.  Are we seeing a nation that is experiencing burnout? A nation that is so tired of hearing about 10 years of war that they would rather turn a cold shoulder than hear about anything solider that has died? The current trend that I am witnessing is disturbing and it is of great concern to me.  Ughh!! I am just so frustrated that this is even an issue. 

Along with being concerned about our Soldier's and Veterans I am also afraid for our families that live with them.  I am worried about how PTSD manifests in a home, how it effects, parents, children, spouses, etc.  Who is keeping an eye on those who are developing secondary PTSD? Who is making sure the caregiver's of these heroes are not suicidal themselves?  Until recently I don't think much thought or attention was being given on this subject, yet it was and is still an issue.  By now many have heard of Jessica Harp and have read her blog, she is an example of what can happen when family member's are not taken care of.   Thank goodness her suicide attempt did not work and that she is still with us and receiving the help she needs, but what if that was not the case?  How many other's are there like her that feel hopeless right now? 

Maybe a family member is not suicidal but in crisis.  Is there help for them at any time of the day?  The answer is yes, but the tough part is very few know that there is help out there 24 hours a day from qualified professionals.  There have been many times where I have felt incredibly overwhelmed with this role that I was trust upon.  I never asked for my husband to be blown up in war.  I never asked for him to leave to Iraq one person but return to me a completely different one.  Am I blessed and happy that he made it home alive?  Of course I am! BUT that does not change that NOTHING since then has been what I thought it would be.  When we got married, I accepted the fact that we didn't get a real wedding because I knew once he got home we would get one.  Ha! We have been married 6 years now and I still have yet to have the wedding I have always wanted.  Our plans changed when he was injured and the wedding is only one small example of what I thought would be that is not. 

I think it is easy for people outside of our situation to look in and say well you just need to  do this or that and then things will be better or easier or you just aren't trying hard enough.  My answer to all of them is to Shut the crap up!! and that is putting it nicely.  Until you have been in a situation, it is not fair or even right to presume you know what someone should do.  I would never tell a widow what she should be thinking of feeling or do because I have not walked that path.  I do however support her, and let her know she is in my thoughts and prayers.  I would ask for specific ways I can help and then do something if requested and it was within my abilities.  I guess the point of all of this is to just realize that we need to wake up and understand that things are NOT what we think they are.  There are many signs out there to how someone is really doing, but the thing is we have to actually stop and really care.   How many times have you had someone see you at the store or wherever you might be and say, "How are you?" and you respond with, "Oh, I am great" but not really be great at all? Maybe you just want them to go away, or maybe they can't handle the truth. 

For me I don't think people would want to know the truth if I was to actually give it to them.  Some days I am actually great, but most of them time I am struggling with something because the life of a caregiver is not an easy one, especially when you are in your 20's and suppose to be having the "Time of your life." It is barely 9 pm as I write this, and yet I am alone once again.  Most of my evenings are spent this way, the kids are fast asleep and so is my husband.  He used to be able to stay up for hours on end and get maybe 3 to 4 hours of sleep and be good to go for another day.  When that IED blast went off and damaged his brain, it took that freedom from him and me along with many others.  I sit here lonely for your freedom and this is how most of my days end.  I have left you with many things to ponder, I hope that the next time you ask someone how they are doing, that you actually are willing to listen to their reponse. 


  1. Thank you for writing all this. I agree, of course, and I know I've said some of the same things on my blog.

  2. I agree, people don't REALLY want to know how we are or what our lives are really like. They just prefer to believe we are happy and fine - like the plastic smile we paste on along with the "I'm fine, and you?" says... I think they would drop their teeth if we answered their "How are you?" with an honest answer for that day... It might be interesting to try and see what happens.