ptsd Military and War Related

I Will Not be Broken, The Effects of War

About the effects of war on soldiers as they return home…

Americans start to feel the ripple effects of war and violence.

The United States is at war, and the home front is hurting. One and a half million Americans have served in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 4,000 are dead. Nearly thirty thousand have been physically wounded. Over 300,000 now suffer from invisible psychological wounds. Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have been called the signature injuries of these conflicts. According to research at the Rand Corporation and Centers for Disease Control, there has been a significant increase in rates of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness and domestic violence among returning service members. Making the transition from soldier to citizen is not simple or easy, but each of us can play a role to reach out with respect and empathy during this crucial time of transition.

ptsd syndrome
There are ways to work through the effects of war: Rise above. Give back.

For many soldiers, war is their "peak experience." They have gone through an adrenaline rush of tests, physical, mental and psychological. Coming down from this level of intensity to engage in more prosaic day-to-day activities at home is a challenge. But normalization after demobilization is key to finding future happiness and health. It’s important not to let a war experience be the end of one’s growth. Living in the pastgetting "stuck" therecan lead to a victim mentality. And victimhood is an unhealthy trap for too many who feel they can’t quite move on from their battlefield experience. At Survivor Corps, we have developed a five-step program to help veterans and their families move forward positively. I learned these five steps after stepping on a landmine in Israel and then working with thousands of victims of war and violence worldwide.

FACE FACTS – We can’t keep a battle mindset forever. Baghdad may feel close, but it is a world away. What we saw or did in battle cannot be changed. There is no turning back the clock. Isolation, anger and resentment are common feelings. Many people will not understand what you went through. But many will. Our relatives and friends want to help but many don’t know exactly how.

CHOOSE LIFE – We all have inherent strengths and coping mechanisms. Think about what got you through your toughest times, and what you did well. Was it your faith? Your sense of humor? Your friendships? Recall your best intentions in serving your country. Then imagine a kick-ass future that is positive and purposeful.

REACH OUT – Traditional trauma and grief counseling doesn’t work for everyone. If it’s not for you or not enough, try reaching out to peers who seem to be getting along okay. Find individuals or groups who seem to be coping with their injuries well or have gone through something similar. Right now, Survivor Corps is creating online peer support for veterans to exchange experiences. It’s not psychotherapy, just a safe, supportive community of people who are overcoming the effects of violence and war, together.

GET MOVING – No one else can make us log on, reach out or get out of the house. We have to do our own survivor sit-ups to get in shape for future life. We can set specific achievable objectives to move forward, upward and onward. Yes, it takes effort, but you’ve already proven you can get through tough times. What the hell, it’s a new day, so get out and go workout, apply for that job, join others to serve or volunteer in your community.

GIVE BACK – No matter how bad it seems, there are others who have been there, or somewhere worse. When you feel ready, look for ways to help other veterans, National Guard, Reservists, and their families who may be struggling. This will not only help them, but help you by taking emphasis off your own pain and focusing energy on others. You might be surprised to find that the same service mentality that brought you overseas can ease pain at home, helping you feel accomplished and connected again.

ptsd flashbacks
We at Survivor Corps are building a movement of survivors helping each other overcome the effects of war and violence. Together, we rise above our injuries and give back to our communities. We aim to do more than survive tough times, we want to grow stronger and thrive.

Copyright 2008 Jerry White

Join us at www.survivorcorps.org and www.IWillNotBeBroken.com.

Jerry White, author of I Will Not Be Broken, is a recognized leader of the historic International Campaign to Ban Landmines, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace; as well as cofounder of Survivor Corps. He lives in Maryland and Malta with his with Kelly and four kids.

By Buzzle Staff and Agencies
Published: 5/21/2008


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