A 55-year-old Army veteran from California called the NVF at his wife’s urging about his PTSD. He’d never told anyone that he had witnessed two fellow soldiers killed in front of him, and he was nearly killed himself. Married for 22 years, he had only recently told her about what he’d experienced many years ago. She hadn’t even known he’d served.
PTSD symptoms had finally caught up to him and he no longer wanted to go out of the house. Somehow he’d had a career, a marriage and two well-raised children, and had even started community initiatives to combat childhood poverty and food insecurity. All while hiding and ignoring his symptoms until he couldn’t hide them anymore. His wife, sensing that something was “off,” finally succeeded in pressuring him to tell her what it was. She felt sad and somewhat betrayed that he had not confided in her, but had hidden the trauma for years. She found our website and made him promise to call.
Counseling as a Solution
Like so many veterans suffering from untreated PTSD, he thought something was mentally wrong with him, that he was somehow defective. When he called, Women Veteran Outreach Director Mary Ann Mayer explained the symptomology of PTSD. When she told him that he was perfectly “normal,” she could hear the relief in his voice. Mayer directed him to the local Vet Center for specialized counseling. He asked her to call his wife to explain the nature of his symptoms. Mary Ann gave her what we call “psychoeducation” regarding PTSD and why he’d hidden his experience from her. Last, Mayer said they could both get help at the Vet Center, individually and as a couple.
Weeks later the vet’s wife emailed to say what a change had been made in both of their lives. Mayer says, “Their story illustrates the need for PTSD to be seen as a family condition, and for all those concerned to receive specialized counseling. I wish all veterans knew that things can and will get better with proper treatment, and that they are not “losing” their minds. As Shad Meshad says, ‘PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.’ Please call our Lifeline for Vets. We are here, and we can help.” Mary Ann is still in touch with the vet’s wife.