Go Into Their Hell To Get Them Out
August 13, 2106
How can you think you will change anything for our veterans if you have not spent time in hell with them? That should be the first question that gets answered if we will ever save more veterans after combat instead of losing survivors of it.
There is no doubt in my mind that most folks have good intentions with all the "awareness" they are trying to raise. Those good intentions have had deadly results because far too many of them did not understand what they were getting into.
The trouble with veterans trying to raise awareness is, while they do understand the trip to hell, they do not necessarily understand what to do or what to say to help their "brother" find hope to heal.
Peer support is vital and works if the veteran is armed with more knowledge than the veteran in crisis. After all, think about support groups for all different issues. These groups are divided up so that everyone in them has been in the same type of situation.
If you have a drug problem, you would not go into a sexual addiction group and expect it would help you with your problems. If you have PTSD from one cause, going into another support group does not work as well as if members of the group survived the same type of event.
Imagine a person with PTSD from abuse in a group where the majority are suffering from PTSD after car accidents. Do the others understand the symptoms? Sure but they do not understand what it is like to have been abused and what that did to the survivor of it.
It is the same thing with PTSD caused by being willing to risk your life for someone else. Firefighters support other firefighters because they understand all of it. Police Officers support other Police Officers for the same reason. Veterans support other veterans because they also understand what it is like no matter what war title is on their hat. What is under their hat are a lot of memories they wish they never had known.
In the line of this work, I have been pulled into their hell but have only stood in the doorway of it watching from a safe distance. I am a family member, so while I can offer other families a deeper level of support than to a veteran, because of the years behind me, I've helped veterans as well as families.
While I have experienced my life on the line for 50 years with very different types of trauma, I have never been in combat and have never been in the service. I just spent my life with veterans. I understand them, but only to a point. I can help them because while I do not understand combat, I can understand what it did to them as much as they can understand what my life did to me. What I cannot do is offer them the same level of support as another veteran can.
I can help them understand what PTSD is and why they have it and I can help them begin to heal but then I have to get them to the point where they go for professional help and into more support than I can give.
That is what has been lacking all along. Good intentions without enough knowledge to what to do and when to do it has produced deadly outcomes for far too many.
If you are a veteran, then you are the best source of support for other veterans. Time to live up to it.
It is great to be willing to call a buddy and be there to listen to them. Most of the time a veteran in crisis just needs to know they matter. That gets them from one minute but what about the next if they are left lacking any more knowledge on how to heal so that tomorrow will be better than "this day" was?
Spend time learning what PTSD is and then go one step further to learn how to help them heal. That is the only way to get them out of the hell they are in right now. If you really want to change what has been happening, then understand what had happened over the last 40 years when researchers discovered what works best along with what failed. So far the failures have been repeated and the successes have been obliterated.