Spouse calls: PTSD: Another perspective
Some readers expressed dismay about a comment by Ann, a military spouse whose experiences were recounted in Spouse Calls on Oct. 18.
Ann originally posted her story on the Spouse Calls blog. She wrote about loving and living with her husband, who has post-traumatic stress disorder.
The section that some found troublesome was: "We forget that the Army takes our loved ones and turns them into mass murderers, with no conscience or hope. We forget that they either find God or turn their backs on Him. They become a large ball of anger and hate that only sleeps, eats, and does what it is told. They have no other way of living and forget that there is something other than war."
An extreme statement, but within the context of her message, I thought it was important to allow Ann to describe her pain and her experience in her own terms.
A soldier stationed in Kuwait wrote to take issue with these words and to offer an active-duty perspective:
"What I don’t want is for anyone to think that I am apathetic towards someone else’s comments or feelings. I do understand what it is all about and how (PTSD) comes about. I do not have a degree in psychology, but I sure do have the hands-on experience with many people from different services and backgrounds.
Here is a quick rundown: I had 12 years active duty in the Marines, four years with the Navy Seabees, one year with a National Guard unit and the last four years on active duty with various Army units. Panama (Just Cause), Desert Storm, and now with three years in Iraq. Not a brag sheet — it’s just a list of the places that I have seen this kind of phenomenon.
Here comes the meat of the subject: A large portion of service people who bring high levels of stress into combat will absolutely come out with greater stress. I have had a great deal of bad times in the area known as the "Triangle of Death" in Iraq. I went home with the same problems and some extra.
The original story you put into print reads just like a hundred stories I’ve seen or heard about. In (Ann’s) story, she even writes about the "before" problems. It seems to me that those are the issues she needs to deal with first. The PTSD, if he has it, will take two strong people to get through it. She cannot ever know, truly, what he went through. He will just continue to get "meaner." That will take a VA rep or counselors with that area of expertise.
I do understand venting; your forum does give people a place to express feelings and thoughts. It boils down to getting help today for the smaller problems before our husbands or wives go into a bad area in the world.
As a good example, my wife is now working with the VA to help her out from her time in Iraq. We have been married 20 years and are not the perfect couple, but we tried to keep the stress low before we left so when we came home it would be easier to get back to our usual routines. I really want to make that point. You deploy with a good marriage, you most usually redeploy to a good one."
I appreciate this soldier’s perspective and understanding. Ann’s words were not weapons aimed at servicemembers. They were an expression of anguish by a wife and mother watching her husband and children suffering from the unseen wounds of war.
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at email@example.com and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.