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"Let us strive... to care for him who shall have borne the battle..."
                                                                                         President Abraham Lincoln

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Continued from the February 2012 Home Page. To go to an archived version of that page, click here: February 2012 Home Page Archive. To return to this month's actual Home Page, click on the Signal Corps orange Home Page menu item in the upper left corner of this page.

continuing...

Does Not Play Well With OthersSpouses and children are not exempt from the stress of their loved one’s military deployment. And while most families of deployed service members rise to the occasion and adapt successfully to the situation, there are many others that do not. Among all of the factors that determine whether a family is able to cope with the elephant in the room or not is the factor of family readiness. Family readiness in expecting the stress and trying to find ways to alleviate it is considered to be a key factor in developing the resilience needed to overcome the problem of combat zone deployment and return. More to the point, families that function most effectively during these times are those who use active coping styles, those who create meaning out of the situation, those who receive community and social support, those who accept the military life style, those who are naturally optimistic and self reliant, and those who adopt flexible gender roles.

As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars begin to return to us those who served in them, we should all be aware of the need to help not only the returning soldier, but his/her family come to grips with the stress that… while they might hide it… is nestled comfortably just below the surface.

How can you tell if a military family you know is suffering from PTSD? Consider these traits and signs of difficulty:

Impact of Military Deployment on Families

Pre-Deployment

• Anger and protest

• Emotional detachment

• Family stress

• Marital disagreements

Deployment

• Emotional destabilization and disorganization

• Sadness, depression, disorientation, anxiety, loneliness

• Sleep disturbances

• Health complaints

• Financial problems

• Some find the midpoint of deployment as the time of greatest stress

• Fear for safety of deployed service member

Reunion 

• Apprehension over redefined roles and power dynamics

Post-Deployment

• Honeymoon period

• Resentment over loss of independence

• Insecurity about place in reconfigured system

• Service member may have difficulty disengaging from combat mission orientation

• Domestic violence

As to what to do if you spot a family in need, the simple answer is to gently encourage them to seek the type of medical and psychiatric help they need… and keep doing so, with great sensitivity and respect for their personal and family independence, until they do. Don’t try to practice psychiatry yourself… helping someone with PTSD is not the same as holding an intervention for your alcoholic uncle or your kleptomaniac niece. The cause of PTSD is internal, based on a set of complex psychological factors. It is not addiction related and not something you are qualified to fix.

Not All Wounds Are VisibleConsider if you will one’s natural reaction to thinking that they have a psychological problem… for example, consider the stigma of seeing a “shrink.” Comedians make jokes about those who do. Yet when it comes to PTSD, seeing a psychiatrist is not a matter of pride or humor, it’s a matter of life and death… or living a whole and worthwhile life, versus one fraught with the emotional pain of PTSD.

In terms of turning to the military to find solace and help, even as the military continues to do its best to identify the deployment-related behavioral health needs of service members and their families, and make available to them facilities to address their needs, the unfortunate fact is that there is little evidence of a well-coordinated or well-disseminated approach to providing behavioral health care to service members and their families. Good intentions aside, it's just not there.

For the most part, installation-level military medical treatment facilities and the larger military medical centers and clinics rely on assigned psychologists or local civilian providers to develop and implement programs focusing on these types of issues. The availability, coherence, and quality of such programs, of course, vary throughout the military, just as the quality of restaurants and bars off-base vary from one fort to another. Third party reviews of the effectiveness of the programs available indicate that while the dedication, intent, and determination to truly help is strong and consistent on the part of care givers, relatively few high-quality programs exist.

What this means is simple to understand: if you or your loved ones are already obtaining help from the military… and it doesn’t seem to be working… then seek another source of help, move on to another program, and keep doing so until your life seems to be coming back into order again. It’s kind of like trick-or-treating at Halloween. At some doors you find stale popcorn, while at others you find all the candied gems you have been dreaming of and deserve. If you’re getting stale popcorn from the door you are at, move on and knock on another one.

All of us who spent time in the military know the value of what we did. Many of us know too how much good the military did for us … developing in us a sense of maturity, discipline, integrity, moral judgment, an ability to finally tell right from wrong and avoid the latter, a tenderness for our fellow comrades in arm, a good work ethic, a never quit attitude, honor… the list goes on. Unfortunately, in some cases the military added to this list of superlatives a couple of negative qualities too. PTSD is one of them. Whether you are a new returnee from one of our existing war zones, or someone still suffering from as far back as WWII, if this fly came through your window when you opened it to let in the fresh air, take the time to find someone able to help you get it out again… someone qualified. And if, as they say, you have to kiss a few frogs until you do, don’t give up. You deserve to live pain free, and so do those around you. There are people out there who can help.

The list of links below may be of use. There are hundreds of other sources of help that can be found online. Many are for free.

In the interim, know that your country honors you, as do we of the U.S. Army Signal Corps OCS Association.

PTSD Help Guide     

 

PTSD VA

 

PTSD Casa Palmera

PTSD Help

 

 

             

 

PDF FileReference Material Used In This Article Came From The Following Source:

Content adapted from: The Psychological Needs of U.S. Military Service Members and Their Families: A Preliminary Report; American Psychological Association, Presidential Task Force on Military Deployment Services, for Youth, Families and Service Members, February 2007. The report is 67 pages long. If you would like to download and read the entire report, please click the icon at right. 

This page originally posted 1 February 2012 


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