By Rev Paul N. Papas II
September 4, 2018
The hidden scars from the trauma suffered at the hands a spouse, an acquaintance, a terrible accident or witnessing a trauma. PTSD has been more associated to soldiers coming back from war, however first responders and victims of domestic violence in significant numbers are also sufferers.
Something terrifying happens to you. Your heart races. Your palms sweat. You can’t sleep. You don’t want to eat. You can’t get the events of that day out of your mind. Any and all of these are completely normal responses to trauma and would be expected of any one of us. We all experience traumatic life events at some point – so we are all familiar with these physical responses. However, for many of us, particularly our service men and women, the physical responses don’t go away with time. In many cases, they become worse.
For those of us living with PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the world is an unsafe and scary place. Danger lurks in every corner and we are often unable to trust and unwilling to explore. Many of us find ourselves giving up activities that we once enjoyed because the anxiety and fear keep us trapped in a dark and scary place.
PTSD is a reaction that stems from a trauma. The most common image that many of us call to mind is that of a combat soldier. Our soldier has been overseas, faced combat and is now facing a series of adjustment issues as he or she acclimates to life at home. One of the more common stereotypes that come to mind is a combat veteran having a reaction to fireworks. While yes, the noise of the seasonal display can absolutely trigger memories of traumatic events faced overseas, many veterans face far more commonplace challenges. (1)
Fifteen months of carnage in Iraq had left the 29-year-old debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder. But despite his doctor’s urgent recommendation, the Army failed to send him to a Warrior Transition Unit for help. The best the Department of Veterans Affairs could offer was 10-minute therapy sessions — via videoconference. (2). The results of the failure to provide treatment led to a time in jail for this veteran.
The week before the 4th of July and the week after is a tense time for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, some of whom might be startled by the celebratory fireworks.
“Some of the veterans I treat say it’s ironic that we have a holiday celebrating the freedoms they helped fight for, but parts of it can be terrifying for them,” Catherine Coppolillo said. (3)
Despite efforts to reduce the stigma and other barriers faced by veterans seeking psychological counseling, encouraging new work is being done to change this. Since 2011, some of that work was conducted in classrooms at William James College, a small school located west of Boston. William James College claims it is the only U.S. psychology graduate school focused on training veterans as counselors.
“If you talk to most vets, they want to talk to people who have had the same sets of experiences,” Robert Dingman, the director of military and veterans psychology at the school, recently explained to Reuters. “We don’t believe by any means that only vets can help vets, but we think it’s a good career pathway.” (4)
People often find help by helping others with their issues.
Everyone is dealing with something. Some scars are visible some are not. There are many who have found a way to overcome what many would call a disability. Just know you are not alone, there is a way back. Look for that outstretched helping hand waiting for you.
New PTSD Treatment for Soldiers and Families download