Secondary PTSD; The Toll of War Injuries on a Veteran’s Caregiver

PTSD, also known as post-traumatic stress disorder, is a common word used in the veteran community. My work with veteran nonprofits has taught me many things about PTSD, one of which being that today is PTSD Awareness Day, a day dedicated to creating awareness around the condition.

I’d like to share with you PTSD from a different perspective- from that of a veteran caregiver.

My wounded veteran husband claims he doesn’t have PTSD. Because he’s not currently depressed, he’s got that “tough Dad” image to keep up, and just simply because he fights through his obstacles every day without the admission.. So, why would he say, “I have PTSD.”

I have Secondary PTSD.

There. I said it. It took me many years to self-diagnose that statement.

Many days feeling like my life would never go back to “normal.” An obscene amount of ignored phone calls and messages from family and friends offering support. More denied outing requests than I’d care to admit from friends that didn’t know how to be there but continuously wanted to show me they cared by inviting me out to dinner, a playdate with their family, birthday parties- anything to take my mind off the chaotic changes taking over my life.

What they didn’t know, couldn’t have known, because I didn’t even know, was that I was suffering and at any point of my life, it can happen again. I won’t know I’m suffering because I’m too busy dealing with the personal stress, anxiety, and sometimes even depression of caring for my husband who also suffers, even when he won’t admit it.

We know how PTSD affects veterans and military persons. Many people don’t realize how indirect exposure with someone’s else firsthand trauma can have lasting effects. In a Veteran Caregiver’s situation, effects that gradually slide him/her into a role where she/he is constantly watching out for other’s well-being, whether that be people OR situations that will trigger the veteran’s traumatic experiences and/or injuries. The caregiver may start avoiding people, situations and places that might bring flashbacks or cause aggravation to the veteran. Soon, it becomes second nature to just isolate ourselves and we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Basically, my behaviors mimic those of my husband’s post-traumatic stress because ultimately I’m trying to keep every situation calm and under control.

Ways I’ve Found to Cope: Post-traumatic Growth

Everyone’s situation is different and unfortunately even finding ways to overcome secondary PTSD, I know that at any unexpected moment, something could happen to spiral us back into our isolation zone. It’s a fact that I’ve learned to accept as our new “normal.’ On the flip side, there are things that have helped me get through these trying times.
Maybe counselling is the best option- A Doctor once told me that a person who had gone through the trauma that my family had dealt with will always need counselling at some point in their lives.  He was right.  I found it very beneficial to have an unbiased person to talk to. I’d encourage you to try and find a therapist that has experience in dealing with your condition. Finding someone to talk to can be crucial, and sometimes that may just be another caregiver that understands the challenges. I’ve had success with various support chats offered through nonprofits or organizations that support the veteran community.  Lastly, I try to always make time to process the grief or anxiety I am feeling. “Me” time. Whether it is a 5 minute walk alone because that’s all I can fit into my hectic schedule, or a full day getting pampered at the spa, I always make time for my own mental health because I’ve learned that in order for my family to be in a good place, I MUST take care of myself too.

Post-traumatic growth. It’s possible. Everyone has struggles, there will always be setbacks, and sometimes it may feel overbearing. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength that you want to do better, be better, and feel better. If not for you, then for those that care for you.

Caregiver to a U.S. Army Veteran & Heroes Thanking Heroes Representative

Two US servicemembers killed in Afghanistan

Two U.S. servicemembers were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, according to a statement from the U.S.-led NATO Resolute Support mission.

No other details were available. Their names are being withheld until 24 hours after next of kin are notified, the statement said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deaths Wednesday, saying in a brief statement on Twitter that the Americans were killed in an ambush in Wardak province on the outskirts of Sayad Abad district. The district is located about 60 miles south of Kabul, along the Kabul-Kandahar Highway.

News of the deaths comes about two months after three Marines assigned to 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division were killed in a car bombing outside Bagram Air Field. The April 8 incident, which happened only days before they were expected to return home from Afghanistan, wounded three other Americans, an Afghan contractor and five Afghan civilians.

The U.S. war in Afghanistan is now in its 18th year. Some 14,000 American troops are deployed there and are charged with two separate but related missions.

Some 8,500 are training and advising Afghan security forces in stabilizing the country and battling the Taliban insurgency as part of the U.S.-led NATO mission. The remainder are part of a bilateral counterterrorism operation against al-Qaida and Islamic State fighters.

More than 2,400 U.S. military personnel have been killed and more than 20,000 have been wounded since the beginning of the Afghan War in October 2001.

Wednesday’s deaths came one day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a visit to Kabul, said Washington is hopeful a peace agreement that will bring an end to the war in Afghanistan can be reached before Sept. 1.

A fresh round of peace talks is expected to begin Saturday between representatives of the U.S. and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

The Taliban have so far refused to hold direct talks with the Kabul government, which they regard as Washington’s puppet regime. Informal Afghan-to-Afghan talks planned for earlier this year in Doha were canceled after both sides disagreed over who should attend.

news@stripes.com

Blue Water Navy Act Now Law!

VFW-championed legislation will benefit tens of thousands of veterans and dependent children

WASHINGTON (June 26, 2019) – The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is saluting the president for signing the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 into law last night.

“Tens of thousands of Blue Water Navy veterans of the Vietnam War and dependent children born with spina bifida due to a parent’s toxic exposure will now benefit from this new law,” exclaimed VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, “and the VFW is proud to have helped lead the charge to return these benefits to these deserving veterans and to expand existing benefits to dependent children. We look forward to the Department of Veterans Affairs publishing implementation guidance on their website very soon.”

The VFW-championed Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, or H.R. 299, restores VA benefits to thousands of Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who had their disability eligibility taken away in 2002 after arbitrary regulatory changes. It benefits veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving along the Korean DMZ with an earlier start date to encompass the timeframe when various defoliants were tested — to Sept. 1, 1967, instead of April 1, 1968 — and expands benefits to children born with spina bifida due to a parent’s exposure in Thailand, coverage that already exists for the children of Vietnam and Korean DMZ veterans. The new law also requires the VA to report on research being conducted on a broad range of conditions possibly related to service in Southwest Asia, which is important for future legislative efforts to create a list of presumptive conditions for veterans seeking VA health care and benefits.

“The VFW is proud of the 116th Congress for ending this benefits inequity, and we salute President Trump for quickly signing H.R. 299 into law,” said Lawrence.

Though the following VA webpages have yet to updated to reflect the new law, veterans and their families can learn more about benefits associated with Agent Orange exposure here, and about spina bifida birth defects related to exposure here. For assistance in filing claims, find an accredited VFW service officer here.

-VFW-

5 Warning Signs of Mental Health Risk

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1. A Change in Personality If someone is acting like a very different person, or not acting or feeling like themself, this is a warning sign.
2. Uncharacteristic Anxiety, Anger, or Moodiness.  Severe changes in emotion are a cause for alarm, especially if they are persistent.
3. Social Withdrawal and Isolation.  If an individual is “closing off” socially, cancelling social engagements, or spending too much time alone, this is a serious warning sign of emotional or mental health issues.
4. Lack of Self-Care or Risky Behaviors.  Persons with mental health issues often lose concern over their own health and well-being, engaging in risky behaviors like drinking and drug use.  In addition, a lack of hygiene, or lack of concern with appearance, may be indicative of a mental health issue.
5. A Sense of Hopelessness or Feeling Overwhelmed.  Mental health difficulties often cause people to give up – to feel like life is just too hard, or that they will never feel “normal” again.

These warning signs, particularly when occurring together, are an indicator that it is time to take action – for yourself or for others.  Realize that you are not alone.  Many Americans suffer from mental health issues at one time or another.  Seek help from a licensed, professional counselor, or contact a physician or your local mental health association.

Transition to a new mission at Northwell Health.

Check out new events at Northwell Health- https://jobs.northwell.edu/events/

http://northwell-veteran-talent-community.ttcportals.com/?pk_vid=78717c51a02daf4c15529400068e7813

Transition to a new mission at Northwell Health.

Our Veterans bring a unique skill set, perspective and values that help drive our mission forward. Join the Northwell Health Veteran Talent Community and see for yourself.

As New York’s largest private employer, we have careers in virtually every area for people who want to redefine how health care is delivered. With a variety of non-clinical careers ranging from clerical, information technology, operations, marketing, finance and human resources. To clinical careers in areas such as nursing, allied health, research and more, we have what you’ve been searching for.

By joining our Veteran Talent Community you will:

  • Be contacted for an exploratory careers conversation
  • Be the first to know about our Military recruitment events and webinars including our Barracks to Business Workshops
  • Receive our monthly Careers Newsletter
  • And more

We take an integrated and comprehensive approach to hiring, training, promoting and supporting veterans and their families — and, whenever possible, we actively seek to hire qualified veterans, National Guard members, reservists and military spouses.

Barracks to Business (B2B) Workshops

As a veteran, you have valuable skills and experience — but you may not know exactly how to translate them to the civilian workplace. We’re here to help. Barracks to Business workshops are designed to help you understand the job search process and create a strategy to pursue civilian employment while also introducing you to career opportunities at Northwell Health.

https://jobs.northwell.edu/events/

Military and Veterans Liaison Services

At Northwell Health, we’re proud to show our respect and gratitude for the service of America’s military members and veterans — as well as for their families. That’s why our Military and Veterans Liaison Services offers a wide range of vital health, wellness and workforce resources. We are committed to making a meaningful difference in the quality of care and service our veterans and their families receive. No service member in our communities should feel forgotten or left behind.

https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/services-we-offer/military-and-veterans-liaison-services

VALOR (Veterans and Allies: Liaisons for Reintegration)

The group, established by Northwell Health’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Literacy. The goal of VALOR is to give members of the military, veterans, and their families an increased sense of community, and a chance to gain insight from each other and share their experiences. The VALOR Navigator Program pairs veterans newly hired by Northwell with other members of the health system to help transition into civilian employment and offer general career encouragement.

https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/services-we-offer/military-and-veterans-liaison-services/career-services#80751

22 PTSD Awareness Challange

Dear Veterans and Supporters:
 Each year there is a 22 mile PTSD Kayak Event to raise awareness of veteran suicide. In the event teams kayak 22 miles on the Long Island sound to raise awareness.  The event will be held on 08/30/2019  There is approximately 22 veterans a day who commit suicide.  If interested in participating, setting up a table for your organization, or kayaking or being a boat captain please contact the facilitators  Alex Rohman  at cell  917-833-4331 email address 22pacorg@gmail.com  and Frank Lombardi  email address is FLombardi@ighl.org and cell number  631-744-0003.  I apologize if i forgot anyone from sending mass email please share information with others.

Below is a link to our Facebook page. If you do not already follow it we would appreciate it if you followed and shared it with your friends, family, and collegues.