Monday, October 28, 2013

The Struggle with PTSD

Because FM went straight from AIT to his overseas base, and because I did not/could not go with him, I have yet to have the experience of living on/near a military installation.  As a result, I really don’t get the opportunity to participate in too many military related things unless I seek them out myself and get involved.  It’s part of the reasoning behind my starting this blog, because I knew I would be otherwise lost sometime next year when we actually get to live on/near a base; at least through blogging I would get a sense of the military community.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call at the non-profit I work for to come speak at a workshop on the effects of PTSD.  It was run by a mother who started an organization after her son, a US Army Specialist, was killed in a motor vehicle accident only miles from home after many years of struggling with the condition.   They were looking for someone to be a guest speaker for one of their sessions on PTSD due to childhood sexual abuse, but they were not in a position to pay for the programs.

Because the topic was so close to home, being a new military wife, hearing about the affects of PTSD on our soldiers, and now working for an organization that aims to prevent childhood sex abuse, I knew this was something I needed to take part in, even if it meant donating two hours of my time, unpaid, to be able to speak at the event.

I know PTSD is something that many of our soldiers have to sit through varying amounts of training on, multiple times per year.  I know that it’s something we see in the news, or hear about on a commercial looking for donations.  But it’s a completely different atmosphere being around those who are affected by it, and the ones who care for them. It’s heartbreaking to hear their struggles, and empowering to know that even the slightest bit of help you can offer means the world.

I do a ton of volunteer work.  I spend a lot of my free time devoted to charitable things.  I always feel a sense of pride for being able to dedicate myself to these efforts.  But this one event certainly stood out.  This one event was just pure good for my soul.  

The gratitude they expressed that I was willing to do this event for them was overwhelming, and once the session ended, more than one participant came up to me to thank me for what I did, and what I do everyday.  I even received a few healthy hugs from parents with affected children.  It was honestly wonderful to do something so helpful and hopeful for people that have already been through so much.

I went into the event expecting nothing but to provide some information and offer assistance to others.  I came out knowing I made a difference, knowing I made a change.

So as a reminder to those of us who have not had a personal encounter with this condition, PTSD is a real thing.  It’s not a made up disease, and it’s not meant to make the general public feel bad for our soldiers.  It is a condition that negatively affects so many lives, soldiers and civilians alike.  And while our military is at a great risk for developing PTSD because of their jobs and circumstances, let us not forget that extreme trauma can cause this to develop in anyone. 

And do remember, on a daily basis you run into all sorts of people but you never really know what someone else is going through.  Remember to be kind to one another, and help in any way you can, even if the gesture is small.  Do something good for your soul!

Please go ahead and check out this infographic on PTSD that really highlights the gigantic impact of this condition.

Be well all!

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