Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Momism: Walk in Their Shoes Before You Judge

This weekend has been a roller coaster of emotions following the Dr Phil show Thursday. The intent was probably a good one, but the intro turned it into a controversy that actually took away from what the message was most likely (hopefully) suppose to be.

PTSD has been a stigma ever since it was first associated with the Vietnam war. Yet other people in other situations can understandably have PTSD and it seems to be deemed acceptable: rape, the death of a loved one. A young father has to identify his precious son's body after he was killed by his mom's boyfriend. When PTSD was diagnosed, it was no surprise to me. I could certainly understand.

Jurors are told they could get PTSD after serving on cases that involve the deaths of children. Again, understandable. Just hearing about a child missing or murdered brings tears to my eyes.

When police officers have to “use deadly force” in a situation, they are given time off to cope. Understandable. Yet a soldier in a war zone does not have that option. He/she must keep constant guard for the next IED, roadside bomb, decoy.

What's NOT understandable? Soldiers and veterans with PTSD. Oh, no, why are they complaining? Why are their families complaining? So they go to war in a foreign country after being on a boat in their own country (Pearl Harbor) or woke up to the news that their country had been attacked and nearly 3,000 killed (9/11).

Soldiers, some of whom were away from home for the first time except for basic and AIT, some teenagers themselves, hearing a woman cry out in an alley, rushing to her aid only to find out it is an ambush. Soldiers finding mass graves, some with notes about the dead person's “crimes” against Saddam. Really, what did a child do to him?

Soldiers calling home because a young girl going to school for the very first time or playing soccer reminds them of their younger sisters or daughters; young boys remind them of their younger brothers or sons. These same children being used as decoys and bombs, most probably without their own knowledge.

Serving in combat and having a brain injury or PTSD does NOT make our heroes monsters. It makes them victims of a war they fought in order to defend our country. Now, perhaps the show intended to try to do good with this particular show. I don't really see that, starting with the title itself. Still, the difference is I am giving it the benefit of a doubt. A small one, however...VERY small.

They say that those who can, do, and those who can't, teach. I don't agree with that because I know some remarkable teachers who have done awesome things in their lives. Yet, I am curious, why is it that those who have never been to battle think it's no big deal? I have seen people shrug off my worries and experiences along with my son's yet they turn around and “whine” themselves about things that have not changed the course of a person's journey in life. They “whine” about their own mood swings, running out of coffee, being called in to work, a television channel messing up.

I think the worst way to handle PTSD is to continue stigmatizing. Calling our heroes monsters does NOT help. I think the best thing we can do is remember this: do not judge if you haven't walked in someone's shoes. I have had bad things happen in my life but I am the first to say I have never experienced anything like what my son must have in combat.

Another good thing to remember is that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. This doctor with his own talk show has been called a monster before as well. Whether the allegations are true or not, they are certainly all over the internet for people to see, as well as in newspapers and tabloids.

The bottom line, our heroes are not monsters. They are courageous men and women, some paid the ultimate price, some paid a significant price. As the saying goes “All gave some, some gave all”. I'm the mom of someone who gave quite a bit. Yet even when I hear of people making the stigmatizing worse when they are in positions to make it better? I don't wish what we have gone through on them. I consider myself lucky and blessed not to be in their shoes at all. Hindsight is better than no sight at all in my opinion. But what do I know, right? I'm just a mom. I actually like that. It gives me the added advantage when I need to “go Mama” on someone.

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