Image via http://www.personal.psu.edu/
Over the weekend, we all heard the tragic news of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield being shot point blank while trying to help a veteran with PTSD. My mind is reeling trying to figure out why this happened. Why was the sniper with the most confirmed kills, and a bounty over his head from the Taliban, killed in this manner? He was on home turf and trying to help out a fellow veteran.
I can’t answer why this happened. But I can state my fears and concerns about it.
Because of this event, people may be terrified to help our wounded warriors suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Our warriors who suffer with this condition have a hard enough time making friends, fitting into society and coping. Will they be even more isolated because of incidents like these? Will people be afraid to offer help or a listening ear?
I think for some the answer is ‘yes.’ The media doesn’t help when they portray these warriors as monsters. Because of this, warriors that ask for help don’t get it or get arrested if they call 911.
Will our warriors be afraid to ask for help if they are feeling homicidal or suicidal because the media and mainstream America thinks they are crazy? Why isn’t there more help for those suffering with PTSD? Non-profits are trying to help bridge the gap where the military and the VA may be lacking, but it isn’t enough.
I will never forget how we had to seek counseling after Bryan was released from in-patient care at Walter Reed. I thought it would be automatic that, after talking to a counselor when he was lying in a hospital bed, he would continue after he was discharged. It wasn’t easy to find the counselor we saw and she didn’t usually see outpatient warriors. I am glad I had her card and that we pursued consistent counseling once he got out.
What happens to those that come home with their unit? How do they get the courage to ask for help? How long is the waiting list to see a therapist?
While my husband suffered a long time with his PTSD, we were proactive about getting the right treatment to make him successful. Violence was never accepted in this house and if he was feeling overly angry he would walk out of the room.
There were times I did the wrong things. It was hard seeing him completely numb and void of emotion and I would press him for his feelings. This was the wrong thing to do. At times I had to sit and wait for him to come to me to share his feelings or ask for help. For someone that is a social worker, and always trying to find solutions, this didn’t bode well for me. However, I knew his limits and waited.
It took years of therapy and doctor’s appointments to find the right dose of medication to help. But we didn’t give up. I am sure many do because it is such a long process and very hard to get help. If warriors don’t have an advocate or cheerleader to guide them through the process, their care just falls to the wayside.
I hope and pray that the media doesn’t paint the picture that veterans with PTSD are monsters. How can the military train them to fight and kill the enemy and expect them to be normal once they’ve hit American soil? It is impossible. War comes with consequences. We have to be ready to help and not chastise them for needing it.
“People tell me I saved hundreds and hundreds of people. But I have to tell you: it’s not the people you saved that you remember. It’s the ones you couldn’t save. Those are the ones you talk about. Those are the faces and situations that stay with you forever.” Chris Kyle, Rest in Peace