Spouse calls: Sympathetic supporters vital
Q. I read that 30 percent of all World War II vets are now stepping forth with PTSD. I believe my dad will be one of them. He is 85 and was in the Battle of the Bulge. I would like to know if this is a forum where I could connect with children and spouses of other WWII vets now facing similar situations.
My dad has macular degeneration, is working with Veteran’s Affairs on a variety of issues and has taken a significant turn for the worse during the past six to nine months. He has been taking his anger and hatred out on my 85-year-old mom. As a result, she has had a series of mini-strokes.
She has lived in fear during their 61 years of marriage, but that fear factor and abuse has gotten worse. Something triggers his lashing out at her — and everyone else. He is terribly depressed, has threatened suicide for more than my 52 years and can be mean. There are other times, however, that he’s very happy-go-lucky and relaxed. That typically isn’t his temperament around my mom or me.
Neither of my parents drives, and I live 90 minutes away. I try to get home every ten days or so, but that’s not always possible. My work takes me on the road in other directions.
I would like feedback from others who have been in similar situations.
— A Reader
A. I am sorry that your family continues to suffer from this painful experience. The occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder in WWII veterans is becoming more widely known as veterans age, and friends and relatives speak out.
While your father is being treated for his mental and physical illnesses, you and your mother may benefit from counseling. You have also experienced the fallout of your father’s condition.
For your parents’ well-being and your peace of mind, have you considered finding a caregiver for them – one who can provide regular supervision for the various health and mental challenges you have described?
In response to your quest for connection: There is a blog called “Daughters of D-Day” on blogspot.com.This WWII-specific site might be a good starting point for you to find others whose parents are veterans of that era. There is discussion of PTSD on that site.
Loved ones of WWII veterans who are experiencing fallout from combat trauma occasionally post on the Spouse Calls blog, so you could find contacts there as well.
I hope that you will find support for yourself and care for your parents.
Q. My son (was) deployed Aug. 31, and I am proud of him and sick at the same time. Are there any support groups for mothers? I need to talk to another mom. Thank you!
A. I can imagine that it was very hard to say goodbye to your son, Katie. Of course you should be very proud of his decision to serve his country.
I interviewed several military moms this spring, including some whose children are deployed. Making connections with other moms is important, they agreed. Here are more of their suggestions to military parents:
• Maintain positive adult-to-adult communication with your son.
• Develop your own interests and abilities beyond parenting.
• Be proud and supportive (This is probably the easiest suggestion to follow).
The Military Moms blog at stripes.com includes many mothers of active-duty members. Other online sites for parents include: www.proudarmyparents.com, www.usmcparents.com and www.navyformoms.com. I’ve listed more sites on the Spouse Calls blog under the post “Happy Mothers Day.”
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She and her family are stationed in Germany. Spouse Calls appears weekly in Stars and Stripes. Write to her at email@example.com and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.