If your service member experiences a traumatic event including combat, sexual assault, or death of a loved one, he or she may have a puzzling reaction to particular situations. For example, loud noises from a movie or a crowded location may trigger a particular stressful memory or response from your service member. During the month of June, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has launched a Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness campaign. The goal of the campaign is to do just that, raise awareness and provide family members, loved ones, and concerned friends with resources in order to better understand the signs and symptoms of PTSD. In addition, it can help you connect your service member with resources.
After a traumatic event, you should expect a transition process while your service member adjusts before returning to everyday activities. What is normal for each person will vary. If you have concerns, it may be helpful to understand common reactions to trauma and when those reactions might be PTSD. You can also explore online assessments to help you understand your service member’s reaction.
It may be difficult to express your concerns to your loved one and encourage them to seek care. The VA has a program called Coaching into Care to help you determine the right thing to say to help your service member seek a medical professional. It can be extremely difficult to see your loved one live with a traumatic experience. You may be frustrated that your loved one is not the “same.” The VA also has tips to help you adjust to the changes. Your well-being is also important. Be sure take care of yourself while you are seeking care for your service member, and keep a list of crisis resources available.
About 7 – 8% of the U.S. population will have PTSD at some point in their life and experts estimate about 1 out of 5 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may have PTSD. The goal this month is to arm you with information so you can help navigate a loved one to the care they need. Knowledge is power. Make a difference this June and become familiar with the resources to help those who may be suffering from PTSD.
Watching your spouse address PTSD demons is heart wrenching. Remember there is help for both of you. Visit our website for additional information on Mental Health Care. Also, read about a military spouse and her personal situation in the article, Spouse Describes Impact of Post-traumatic Stress.