On Saturday, July 10, 2010, President Obama announced in his weekly radio address that the VA is implementing a streamlined process for helping veterans get the much needed help for what has been identified as “the signature injuries of today’s wars”–PTSD and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Vets will no longer be required to document a specific traumatic event as “the cause” of their battle with PTSD. This change gives weightiness to the reality that almost all vets from past and current wars have been well aware of–you don’t have to be engaged in a firefight with the enemy to endure the trauma of war. War leaves a mark.
Lt. Col. Dan Nigolian, a 26-year USAF retired chaplain, agrees. Nigolian came home after 5 deployments–3 special opps, 1 in Iraq, and his last in Afghanistan–and was shocked to be diagnosed with both PTSD and TBI. He’d never considered that being shot down in an airplane and blown up in a convoy as events that left invisible wounds where there were no obvious physical wounds. Nigolian shares about the “buddy care” training that all military personnel get prior to a deployment. He reminds vets who come home that the war isn’t over and you’re not done caring for your buddies just because you back on US soil. “You are as responsible to take care of your buddy at home during the PTSD war as you were overseas during the shooting war.”
And the same is true for family members of returning vets who see the red flags of PTSD in their loved ones. Things like sleeplessness, depression, drinking too much, angry outbursts, can’t hold a job, relationships are suffering, isolating himself or herself from the world, reckless behavior, not taking care of herself or himself . . . to name a few. They need help. And you need to help them get help.
Check out the PTSD portion of the HelpForMyLife.org website for helpful video and written resources that will get you and your loved one on the path to healing the invisible wounds of war. Our DVD, The War Within, has been a source of help and encouragement to many who have been reluctant to get help. Don’t wait, and please don’t struggle alone.
God has reassured us repeatedly throughout His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). In the same manner, we are called to love one another the way God has loved us (John 13:34). Be there for your spouse, parent, brother, sister or friend who has brought the war home with them. Stand with them and see them through this healing journey with the hidden wounds of war.
If this has been helpful to you, feel free to post a comment and let us hear your story of bringing the war home and how you’re getting or giving help.