October 28, 2013 – A loved one in military combat creates an underlying apprehension that lodges deep inside until the day he or she comes home. The relief of a safe return is almost joy unspeakable. This makes it all the sadder when the war comes home with them, wedged in their psyche.
Katie Bagosy knows. The young woman in my Wednesday night class at church indicated one week that she is a war widow, and when asked about it the next week she gave the sad details of her Marine husband’s suicide. He had
served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, fathered two children, and was only 25 years old.
Katie told us we could search her name for more details. I found her blog post, which stated in part:
“I wasn’t prepared for just how different my husband would be. I’ve said from the beginning that the man I married died in Iraq and I didn’t know the man who came home. In a sense I feel as though I lost my husband twice. When Tom returned from Iraq in April 2007 the war wasn’t over. In fact it was probably just beginning. The thing about our story and many like it is that it could have had a different ending. It could have had a happy ending, or even from Tom’s own indications, a much more tragic one if he had taken others with him. It probably shouldn’t need to be stated, and for some it will come as no surprise, but the issues of PTSD and suicide need to be addressed from the top down.”
In May 2010 her husband was being evaluated at a hospital clinic at Camp Lejeune when he abruptly departed. A chase ensued and when stopped on the highway Tom exited his truck, walked out into the street and… tragically, ended the torture he was obviously feeling inside.
Military or military veteran suicides account for somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of all those in the country, while comprising just 7.6 percent of the population. The first half of 2012 they were averaging about one per day. At a time when there should be jubilation and a strong surge into a new phase of life, it’s estimated that more than 30 percent of families welcoming a loved one home from war are going to face a new battle commonly referred to by its initials – PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real emotional problem birthed in battle. The anxiety of war-zone living, the need to kill others or be killed, and the long and treacherous hours in this state of mind overwhelm the coping mechanisms of many.
It requires a mental adjustment to harm others, I suspect, and who can imagine the difficulty of living in almost constant fear for prolonged periods. When placed in a situation that forces you to act contrary to natural instinct, the results can be staggering. Many of these wonderful warriors, sacrificially protecting our freedom, survive by shutting down all emotions except hate and anger. Sadly, many are unable to activate their suppressed emotions when they arrive home.
Besides Katie, I knew another veteran dealing with PTSD several years ago. I’d just started a new job, and this co-worker explained he had come to work late from a counseling session. I figured he must’ve been a veteran of the more recent Iraq War, but I found out he had served in the Gulf War – 17 years earlier. He was still attending therapy.
Signs Of PTSD
Be sensitive to the following signs in your combat veteran:
• Flashbacks of dangerous situations at any time of day or night
• Anger that comes from “nowhere” or unyielding rage
• Anxiety and inability to be around others
• Withdrawal from family and friends
• Alcoholism and drug abuse
• Mental instability
• Inability to sleep
How To Get Help
Family members cannot allow this type of sickness to go untreated. Dismiss any uneasiness felt about seeking mental or emotional health treatment. You must take the initiative because chances are your war hero cannot see the
problem and step up for himself or herself. You will have to approach the Veterans Administration (VA) for help, but do not expect quick service. In fact, the VA operates in a constant state of backlog. While you will need to patiently await VA benefits, you have other options.
The National Center for PTSD1 place. Many non-profit organizations are dedicated to helping returning combat personnel with PTSD. They offer free or very low-cost treatment plans, and many are using holistic approaches to this disorder with great success. The most important thing you can do for you loved one is get them enrolled into as is easily the best place to start, but not the only many programs as you can so that they can receive the treatment they deserve.
Our vets deserve our best. Their valor may make them hesitant to file for financial assistance, but you and they can learn a great deal more about the disability system by reading a free ebook offered by Marc Whitehead & Associates, Texas disability lawyers, titled simply “Veterans Disability Claims.” It can be downloaded from their website.
Unlike my co-worker in 17 years of counseling, and Katie’s husband for whom medication didn’t seem to help and counseling wasn’t enough, many vets recover from PTSD in a very short period of time. Through therapy and other means, they learn to control what triggers their rage or their flashbacks and they can go on to function normally again. Some may have a harder time, especially if they experienced something that a non-military person could never imagine.
This may take extensive therapy and medications to help, but it can be helped.The best thing that you can do is care, show your support, and if necessary, force your loved one into treatment. PTSD can be very emotionally draining on the individual, and this can lead to other health conditions. Helping them as soon as you notice there is a problem will help prevent long-term medical issues for your wounded warrior.
Katie Bagosy’s husband earned several medals including two Combat Action Ribbons and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. He had suffered a brain injury in Iraq but went on later to serve in Afghanistan. A news report after his death said he felt the stigma of mental health treatment was hurting his career and, besides, he’d figured it had done all it could. He escaped those trying to stop him from leaving a mental health clinic.
Photo: Source can be found here.