Saturday, May 30, 2015

Raising Hope Awareness On Combat PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 30, 2015

Maybe I am getting cynical after over 30 years of working with veterans to help them heal and witnessing the transformation from hopelessness to inspirational that drives me insane when the wrong kind of "awareness" is being pushed in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is a growing parade of charities and veterans jumping on the awareness march and to tell the truth, it makes me sad. I can't help but wonder what their goal really is. Is it about following the massive charity pulling in millions a year (you know who I mean and they won't be mentioned here) raising awareness about themselves and getting folks to kick in huge sums of money? After all getting veterans to "aid and assist each other" is something they do for free every day all over the country. Doesn't make sense to give all that money for something that is freely, willingly and given all the time without much more money than it costs to buy a beer, cup of coffee, sandwich or spend time listening to them.

It requires a massive amount of patience that comes with experience back by knowledge. It requires time spent with them and then more time spent with support behind the helper because even we need help after helping them. It costs me gas, cell phone bill and internet charges. While my soul pays a price, restoring it comes swiftly when these veterans have that spark of hope back in their eyes and I know I contributed to that moment.

Healing PTSD, letting veterans know it is never too late to live better lives, is what has been missing in all this "awareness" talk. They are not even aware of the simple fact they are not stuck where they are emotionally right now.

Awareness in wrong place.

If the "awareness" raisers are trying to inform citizens, then they have arrived far too late since citizens are not even aware that everything being done on mental health tied to trauma is due to Vietnam veterans coming home and fight for it. They are not aware that this has all been going on full force for 40 years. It is very unlikely they will ever care enough to become aware of what has afflicted veterans in the US since the Revolutionary War and worldwide since the beginning of time.

Anyone holding a Bible (or tablet) in their hands can read all about it in Psalms as King David struggled with war and the toll on his soul.
Psalm 144
Of David.
1 Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
2 He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

King David's inner struggles show that none of this is new.

This is a quote from Platoon
Chris Taylor: [voiceover] I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. And the enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days as I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called possession of my soul. There are times since, I've felt like the child born of those two fathers. But, be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.

Vietnam veterans are the reason civilian survivors of trauma have Crisis Intervention Teams because of the research spawn from their suffering.

VIETNAM VETERANS READJUSTMENT PROBLEMS The Etiology of Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders and a copy of this hangs on my wall reminding me everyday how long this has been going on. Yet the most often underreported fact in the suicide reports, over 70% of those suicides involved veterans over 50. Civilians seem only able to think of the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Civilians have no clue after all these years. Trying to explain to them the 22 a day is not even close leaves them speechless yet most raising awareness repeat that number omitting the disclaimer from the VA that those numbers are an average from the states participating in the research. The VA also reported there are 1,000 additional veterans within their system alone attempting suicide on a monthly basis.

Veterans already know these numbers. The last thing they want to do is to become one of them.

They want to know how others make it. How others have been able to go on and live happier lives. They want to know what the right kind of help is and how to get it. They want to know where they fit in since they no longer feel as if they fit in with civilians.

How about raising awareness about healing and the simple fact they find support among other veterans? How about letting them know that while the suicide numbers are terrible more veterans survive and thrive with PTSD?

It happens a lot more often than they are aware of.

The time has passed to shout about how they die. It is time to shout about how they heal!

I've been married to a Vietnam veteran since 1984 and have seen it first hand. PTSD doesn't have to win anything and while it cannot be cured, it can be defeated.

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