Blue Star Ranch – Our Veterans, A Silent Majority
They are trained to sacrifice themselves for us on the home front. They do it with patriotism and pride in our country and way of life. They do it for their families and all American families. Yet many civilians treat them like the enemy, even though they (the civilians) do not know why.
Spouses know that the person that left to protect our country was their beloved family member. And they spend hours praying their loved one will return to reunite with them. When they do there is great joy and celebration. This can last several weeks or months, until the spouse realizes that the person that came home was not the same person that left. They don’t understand why they can no longer communicate with their spouse. They don’t understand the things that are happening every day. So, I am going to attempt to give you a little peek into the life of our PTSD veterans.
In the military, training is all important. The chain of command is all important. Why? It is the safest way to go into battle. So, you are now a soldier. You will long for home and your loved ones, and then suddenly you are under attack. You switch gears, you are now a team member responsible for each other’s lives. You have to have your buddies back and they have to have yours. We watch these battles play out in movies and tv shows. We are so hardened to these images that we have no real understanding as to how this affects soldiers.
Once home, these soldiers still face the biggest battle of their lives. Adjusting, to civilian life. First, soldiers don’t complain about their conditions. They try to protect their loved ones from the horror they experienced. They don’t want to talk about what happened. They don’t want to relive what went down. And, they have no control over their reactions to certain stimuli such as; helicopter overhead, backfires (can sound like gunfire), constantly searching the mountain sides for the enemy. Not being able to sleep, not until they become so exhausted that they will fall asleep (and when they do it is a very deep sleep). Nightmares, yes nightmares. And spouses feel so helpless as to what to do to help their loved one. So, they try to wake them up to reassure them. The result? You may wind up on the floor. Waking up in this manner will cause a reaction. Can you see what all this is leading to regarding spousal relations? Can you understand why there is such a high suicidal and divorce rate among these families?
Tip: If your veteran is having a nightmare, get out of the bed. Get a distance from the bed, they may wake up swinging. Call their name gently, keep calling it until they wake up. From your distance reassure them everything is okay.
Let me just give you a few examples of how living with PTSD is expressed by veterans in daily life.
“I went to a birthday party with my wife and kids. When I started meeting people there all I could focus on was what kind of shoes is that guy wearing (friend or foe, combative or not), does he have a gun in his belt?”
This is an example of hyper-vigilance. Soldiers (men and woman), are always “at the ready” even in a down time situation. A lack of sleep (sleeping problems) = exhaustion. When you are in a state of exhaustion any trigger can induce an outburst. Example, a helicopter overhead, a person cuts you off on the freeway. Most veterans prefer to shop very early morning or late night, because they are very uncomfortable in crowds. Can you imagine why?
Soldiers want to be with other soldiers, but here is the thing. Even when together they don’t want to talk about deployment experiences. They just want to hang with their buddies who have their back. It feels safe.
So, if you are a spouse, or know a veteran in need please refer them to Blue Star Ranch, Serving Our Nation’s Veterans with Equine Assisted Therapy. Website: www.BlueStarRanch.org or call Nancy at 661-312-6184.
And, if you know a veteran please honor them with a donation to our program as we provide our services free and need to pay the bills. Donations can be made online. We write grants, do fundraisers, but we receive no federal funding. We are limited in helping veterans only by our budget. Thank you!
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