Spouse Calls: PTSD support for spouses
Stars and Stripes March 2, 2008
In Spouse Calls blogger comments, one issue comes up more often than any other: Post traumatic stress disorder. Last week’s column included some of those comments from spouses with first- hand experience on the subject.
These messages are significant, both for their individuality and their similarities. Each spouse who watches a loved one suffer through the after- effects of combat has a unique experience, but there are also common feelings and frustrations:
• “This is not the person I married.”
• “He says he doesn’t want to be married any more.”
• “There is so much anger.”
• “Why is he kind to everyone but me?”
• “Am I the only one?”
I point out these similarities not to minimize the individuality of each experience, but to offer an answer to the last question: You are not alone.
There are so many questions I cannot answer, but I can point out resources for help and encouragement.
Operation Homefront is an organization created to meet needs within the military community. Meredith Leyva, a military spouse who founded the organization in 2001, recently announced an Operation Homefront program for spouses of wounded veterans.
The program, Wounded Warrior Wives, is intended to create a community for spouses of servicemembers with various combat injuries, including PTSD.
Dr. Julie Storey, a clinical psychologist, serves as director of clinical education and counseling services for the new program.
“It’s apparent to everyone connected … to active duty military members and veterans that the loved ones who are caring for the injured and disabled are in desperate need of support and resources,” Julie said. “But figuring out how to get those resources and support to them in a manner in which they can and will receive is the challenge we are facing.”
Julie said the most successful component of the program so far is the online discussion at www.cinchouse.com, an Operation Homefront Web site.
“The forum is a great way for spouses to share experiences and information at their own convenience,” she said. “Spouses also seem to like the anonymity provided by the online forum.
“We had also envisioned on-site support groups being started at least in areas where the population of wounded is dense enough to support a group meeting,” she said. “However, this is the piece that has developed more slowly and is the piece that we would love to have more spouses involved in.”
Julie said Wounded Warrior Wives hopes to develop peer-led groups of spouses and caregivers who would get together in person to share ideas and encouragement. Anyone interested in more information can contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.operationhomefront.net to locate an Operation Homefront chapter nearby.
To access the online forum for Wounded Warrior Wives at www.cinchouse. com, click on the “Forum” tab at the top of the page and choose “Wounded Warrior Wives” from the list of discussion subjects. Participants must register with a name and e-mail address, but can choose a screen name to post comments.
Blogs are one way that spouses from all over can connect and share their experiences on any subject. Here are more sites — especially for military spouses — about PTSD:
• “Aftermath of War: Coping With PTSD Too” on Groups.msn.com. http://groups.msn.com/Aftermathofwar copingwithPTSDtoo/general1.msnw? action=get_threads&all_topics=0
• Patience Mason’s PTSD Blog at http://patiencemason.blogspot.com
• Forums at http://www.milspouse. com. First, register to enter the Forums; Click on the “Deployment” thread, then “Homecoming,” then “Readjustment issues.”
I have listed these links and more resources on the Spouse Calls blog. See those, as well as more Spouse Calls blog posts about PTSD, at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany, where her husband is stationed at Ramstein AB. Send questions or comments to her at email@example.com