Heroes Need Saving Too: 4 Ways To Help A Loved One With PTSD

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Military Love
Love, Family

It's not just the person suffering from the illness that needs support.

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, issues are not new. I can remember when I was in the Marines, people had such bad opinions towards us. We were called baby killers, and when we'd get off the plane coming home, we'd be greeted by protesters throwing things at us. It was a time where we would hide the fact we were in the military, and more importantly, hide any issues dealing with PTSD.

Now there are parties, campaigns and even parades for the men and woman who serve our country — which they totally deserve. Something has brought back pride in being an American, and therapy for PTSD or any type of mental health isn't such a taboo. 

There are many new organizations that were created just to help the veterans. But we're still forgetting someone, and this time it isn't the veterans — it's the people waiting for them back at home.

The spouses of those serving our country have to stay and keep things normal for the rest of the family, many times for a period over a year. They have to run the household as a single parent, taking the kids to their activities, paying the bills, resolving the conflicts, plus (and here’s the biggie) keeping faith that their loved one is safe and protected. All while knowing their loved one is in harm’s way.

It takes a toll on a person waiting for that year to finish, let alone wondering if their veteran is going to be the same when they come home.

At the time of this writing the government predicted that 20% of all returning veterans will develop PTSD. Imagine being that loved one facing all the challenges of life, worrying their spouse and now, topping it all off, wondering if their veteran will be one of those 20%. These are the other heroes on my mind. 

The husbands and wives of those serving our country, my hat goes off to you and the bravery you show in keeping this country as great as it is.

So what is the best thing you can do for your veteran that suffers from PTSD? My answer is always the same: take care of yourself first. 

What I’ve found is that the veteran that comes back can be very aggressive and sometimes takes over their spouse's life. Without having the confidence to say no, they will walk all over you and leave you a shell of a person. I’ve seen this way too often not to suggest you try getting yourself as strong as possible first.

This doesn't mean you get ready to fight them, but get stronger as a person with these four tips:

1. Learn the symptoms of PTSD.

There are many symptoms to PTSD and not everyone is affected the same. Learn what the symptoms are so that you can see that your veteran is not trying to "do" anything to you. They are just reacting to PTSD.

2. Discover your own needs.

Your veteran has been gone a long time, and you are use to doing things alone. It's time to discover what you may want help with.

3. Be understanding, but not a punching bag.

Many veterans coming back seem to be more aggressive than you remember. Learn how to have your own voice that lets them know it's not acceptable to be mean, without giving the impression you're attacking them.

4. Find a support team

This one is most important. Trying to deal with something like PTSD is not easy. Having a support system in place will help you when things start to get rough.     

You are a hero! You've gone through your own war, now it's time to get your family back together again. 

Roger House is a couples and marriage counselor. If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulty managing PTSD, contact Roger here.