What is PTSD?
From a Veteran at WLO, “I came home from active duty and said I was fine. I truly thought I was fine. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how sick I was. I had heard about PTSD, but another Vet’s story compared to mine gave me no reason to complain. My friends and family kept saying I had changed, and I found myself isolating myself. I was self medicating, wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating and my relationships were all a mess. I soon realized that I needed help. I had shame at my inability to cope and didn’t understand how I could have thrived under pressure, and now that I was out of war and high stress, I was worse off. I was always the strong one and felt ashamed that I couldn’t be the strong one this time. I had to leave my job to get full time treatment and get reconnected again. I had to learn how to be me.”
A significant number of veterans returning from active duty combat face a new enemy upon returning home. Often called the silent killer, PTSD wreaks havoc on the lives of countless veterans, resulting in drug and alcohol use, homelessness, domestic violence and suicide. The National Center for PTSD reports, “11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD in a given year.” We now have Operation New Dawn (OND) as well and many combat Veterans coming home from overseas.
PTSD does not only encompass war trauma, but military sexual trauma (MST). The National Center for PTSD reports, “23 out of every 100 women have reported sexual assault and 38 out of 100 men have reported sexual harassment.” MST does not only affect women, but men as well, leaving the transitioning military population stranded and needing help when they leave the military. If PTSD and PTS are silent, then where does that leave us with the taboo subject of Military Sexual Trauma? If a Veteran surfaces for assistance, available treatments are often inadequate, outdated, or simply ineffective.
At WLO we believe the system needs exposure not to the trauma, but to what is working well in life, or what is safe or even joyful. To treat combat and sexual trauma efficiently one must receive several treatments of therapy a month or even a week. Not only do they need alternative treatments that address the fullness of who they are and the struggle they face, but also, who they dream of being after military life. This means using treatments that are holistic and integrative in healing the mind, body, heart and spirit.
Combat Veterans simply are not receiving the regular care they need, and/or being given the best and up to date therapies for combating PTSD. This, in essence, leaves our young Veterans who dedicated their lives to helping others with few opportunities to help themselves.