Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Virginia Retreat Helps Couples Learn How to Heal PTSD Together

I've been married to my Vietnam veteran husband going on 32 years, so please know I know exactly where you're coming from. We are proof that it can work out no matter what you face as long as you do it together. If you are a spouse, learn as much as you can about what PTSD is and then you can stand by his/her side while they seem like they are trying to push you away.
Couples look for ways to heal relationships, psychological wounds of war at Virginia retreat 
Stars and Stripes
By Dianna Cahn
Published: May 17, 2016

“When a man seats before his eyes the bronze face of his helmet and steps off from the line of departure, he divides himself, as he divides his ticket in two parts. … He banishes from his heart all feeling of tenderness and mercy, all compassion and kindness, all thought or concept of the enemy as a man, a human being like himself. ... He could not fight at all if he did not do this.”
— Steven Pressfield, “Gates of Fire,” read during the Bridging the Gap retreat

Social worker Victoria Bruner interacts with mentoring couple Adrian and Diana Veseth-Nelson during a Bridging the Gap retreat in Middleburg, Virginia on Dec. 10, 2015. Bruner created the retreat model to help not only veterans suffering from war trauma or injury, but also their spouses.
DIANNA CAHN/STARS AND STRIPES
MIDDLEBURG, Va. — They drove or flew here. Some fought along the way, as they do.

Then, the awkward first meeting. Smiles, shifting uncomfortably.

Six couples if you include Adrian and Diana Veseth-Nelson, mentors here to show the others that there is hope. Lucas Lewis is busy, brusque. David Inglish is chatty, finding smoking buddies on the stoop. The two men know each other — and Adrian — intimately. They were at war together.

The rest are mostly strangers. The women attempt to hide their nervousness and keep their secrets — we sleep in separate bedrooms; he no longer lives at home. They wonder whether anyone else is waiting for their partner’s mercury to rise.

They are all here, at this Virginia retreat, to heal. Or to try. Or to do something. Because anything is better than what they have now — one partner traumatized by war, the other overwhelmed by how much falls on them and how little they understand.

“It’s your experience here, nobody else’s,” social worker David Shoots tells the couples in the first session. “The only thing I ask from you: If you are not yet on the road, get on it now. The road is called recovery.”
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