Over the years, I've heard veterans, even my own family member, say that they don't need help, they don't need to “talk about it”, they don't need to be around “it”. What is "it"? It is something that brings back the memories of combat. The thing is, every day situations here at home can cause a flashback or a feeling of needing to be alert and prepared. It is the new normal here at home.
The first time I saw my son in a comfortable setting where he relaxed and talked after deployment was at my former supervisor's retirement party back in 2006. I had worked for a priest for five years and his retirement happened shortly after my son's tour of duty was up. It was a formal affair at a country club and we got dressed up for the occasion. At our table sat church members and friends of the man I worked for. Among them was a Vietnam veteran. My son spent the entire evening relaxed and talking with him as they sat side by side, with the gentleman's wife on his other side and me on the other side of my son.
Even then, I got it. I knew that my son felt more comfortable with that gentleman than anyone, including friends and family. They shared a connection that folks here at home just can't understand. I'm the first to admit that I will never come close to comprehending what our troops have gone through in a war zone.
Fast forward to last Friday. I did a television commercial with members of a local group that helps veterans and family members. After we finished, four of us went out to eat. Three were veterans. I was the mom of a veteran. Yet it was one of the most pleasant and comfortable times I've had in recent years as well. Why? Because we knew what each other had been through. We knew that we could count on each other. Even as a mom, I was accepted and trusted as part of the “unit” of trust that is hard to feel at times. We could chat about experiences and we could just sit and laugh and joke about goofy every day stuff. The trust and camaraderie was present.
If you are here on the Family of a Vet website, I'm sure chances are good it's because you or someone you know has been deployed. I'm also sure if you are a family member, that you feel alone and out of sync with others just as your veteran does. This is actually quite normal, the “new” normal of living life after combat with someone who has PTSD and/or a TBI.
I highly recommend that you find a support group in your area. If you have trouble doing so, please feel free to ask us to help you find the right resources. If there isn't one, it might be a sign that you could help start one in your community. But first, let us know where you are and we will help you see if there is one. In the meantime, we will be able to support you through our own online and on the phone.
Finding support, being with others who understand, is a wonderful feeling of acceptance. Spending time every week or even every other week with that group can make all the difference when you are feeling like no one understands because there are others who really do get what you are going through.
Lunch last Friday was nice. I spent it with three awesome people who did what my son did, they went to war for a country they loved and believed in. I went home with a smile on my face. Correction, I went grocery shopping (which can be hectic on a Friday afternoon, right?) with a smile on my face.
You're not alone. Whether you are a veteran, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child of someone with PTSD or a TBI. You're not alone. Let us help you discover the other people who share your experiences. Together, we can all make a positive difference in our “new” normal.