First, A Sincere Thanks to All Military Families.
I have many mentors who went out of their way to thank military families for their support of the military and the military member, and I feel it necessary to echo the words of my mentors and say thank you for your support and sacrifice. Military families deserve the best support available. They make a different type of sacrifice than the military member – the military family’s sacrifice involves more unknowns about services and less communication when the member is deployed, creating an environment of constant uncertainty.
Military families deserve the best support available.
When it comes to family support, the military member is normally referred to as the sponsor. The sponsor is the gateway or interfacefor the family to be eligible to receive services. This is great, in theory, but what happens when the sponsor is affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and it impacts the family?
How do military families reach out when their sponsor feels unable or refuses to act and request the support of services on their behalf?
The Impacts of PTSD on the Military Family
In an article titled, PTSD and the Family, authors Eve B. Carlson, Ph.D,andJoseph Ruzek, Ph.D. describe the potential impacts that PTSD has on the military family. Carlson and Ruzek note that families react to the trauma – creating a sort of emotionally tumultuous experience for the family as well.
Common reactions a family of a service member with PTSD may experience includesympathy, depression, fear and worry, avoidance, guilt and shame, anger, and negative feelings.
PTSD has become so prevalent, that even U.S. allies are studying the potential impacts of PTSD on the military family in order to help come up with solutions that better serve the families of those supporting servicemembers with PTSD. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, for instance, have all conducted similar research and have come upon similar findings to the research conducted in the U.S.
What Help is Available for Service Members and Veterans with PTSD?
Carlson and Ruzek recommend that family members supporting a military member or veteran with PTSD learn as much as they can about PTSD. Further, they recommend the family members seek counseling even if the member/veteran chooses not to get help in order to help them better process the emotional impact theyundergo. Families of active duty members have access to family support services, chaplains, health care professionals, and unit leadership. These professionals are trained to support families and connect them with the right service to meet their needs. In a crisis, families of active duty and veterans may call: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 or veterancrisisline.net.
Families of active duty members have access to family support services, chaplains, health care professionals, and unit leadership.
Don’t Hesitate to Seek Help
If you or a loved one is experiencing PTSD, know that you are not alone. It is important to seek help from someone you trust, who is experienced in treating the complexity of disorders like PTSD, and who can connect you with additional resources as necessary. There is no shame in seeking help, and in doing so, you’ll empower yourself and your family to begin the healing process.