5 ways to help military families cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and debunk the myths surrounding it.
Posted in , Jun 7, 2016
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) strikes fear into the hearts of all military families. It’s that unspoken “what-if” that lurks in the back of our minds, waiting to pounce when we least expect it.
Although this issue has been around since wars were documented, it hasn’t always been treated. In World War I, soldiers suffering from this were labeled as shell-shocked. The problem was thought to have been caused by the concussive effect of the shells used in various weapons.
In World War II, soldiers were labeled with combat exhaustion or combat stress. And those returning from battle during the Vietnam era were labeled with post-Vietnam syndrome.
During these early eras, the diagnosis carried overtones of shame and weakness. Fortunately we now know better. But there are still a lot of misconceptions about war and its effects on those involved.
It’s important to bring attention to this devastating illness to help returning veterans and their families. Fortunately, there are a lot of options for treatment—both within the military system and outside it.
Here are 5 ways we can help:
1) Pray for our military—current and former—and their families.
Ask God to lead them to correct diagnosis and treatment for any issues they may be experiencing.
2) Be sensitive about the questions we ask.
The experience of war is personal and traumatic. Questioning a returning service person about specifics is not helpful or even acceptable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with our son and someone will ask if he’s ever killed anyone. Please don’t be this type of person.
3) Offer respect to those who’ve served.
Thank them for their service and the sacrifices they’ve made.
4) Educate yourself about PTSD.
Those who have it aren’t homicidal maniacs. They aren’t likely to harm others. Be ready to share the truth of this disease with those who don’t know the specifics of it.
5) Support the military families in your community.
We can do this personally by offering to fill needs that we see. But we can also do it by celebrating the military holidays set aside in our country.
PTSD is a real thing, but it’s not an unsurmountable issue. Help bring awareness to this disease and debunk some of the myths surrounding it.