Military spouses have to deal with alot of things. Alot of unknown situations they are put into just because thier loved one is a soldier. Most of these things the military will try to prepare families for. When the soldier deploys, they prepare the families with a training of sorts to prepare for separation. When the soldier returns, there's reintegration training. Granted, no matter how much training you can imagine, it doesn't compare to experiencing the real thing. Sending the soldier out for days, weeks, or even months at a time is still preparation for them to deploy and for the families to become accustomed to being without their loved one for a certain amount of time. But it's not completely the same.
There are a few things in life that you're just not prepared for. There's no training that can even remotely make you feel ready to deal with these life situations that no one wants to think about...let alone figure out what to do if it should happen...before it happens.
It's a given that soldiers deploy with the knowledge that they may not return home or that they may return home injured. They prepare the best they can before deployment in case this should happen. Preparing wills, making sure life insurance is in order, etc.
Then there are those soldiers, who aren't technically "wounded" ...but are. They come home different. They're not the same as when they left. Due to one reason or another, they've experienced something traumatic in their day to day life living downrange and they return to the home life a completely different person. Sometimes its noticed before they come home. Sometimes shortly after. Sometimes it takes a while. It could be a culmination of alot of different things that make it obvious.
That's what happened to my soldier. He came home from his third deployment a little different. A little angrier. He had a little more trouble sleeping. Things seemed to slowly start falling apart. Then after the fourth deployment, it was more than a subtle change. His life priorities had changed. All the while I'm at home with the same priorities and goals that we had before he left. And even after battling this PTSD for a year now, it's still an on-going struggle. Not just for him, but for me.
This is one thing that I feel like the military just does not train spouses to deal with. And once it does happen, it's still not a top priority for the families to learn how to deal with the changes in their spouse. How to readjust your life to live with someone who is on edge 24/7...who's on constant alert and can't turn himself off to even rest.
They make it well known that they want the awareness out that these soldiers aren't alone. They provide classes and group therapies and social work and more for the soldiers so that they may treat their PTSD. Which is a wonderful thing that its becoming more of a known topic. I feel like there's a ton of loopholes in this program though.
But did you know there is such a thing as Secondary PTSD. This happens when you start to suffer depression, caregiver stress, or other similar symptoms that mirror your soldier who is suffering from the ptsd that resulted from a traumatic event. There are so many people out there who I'm sure don't even know it exists.
Why is the Army not making the families aware of this? Why are the families not made of aware of what to expect when their soldier is dealing with this? Why, when they realize a soldier has PTSD, is the family not included in treatment? Why, if the soldier is placed in treatment, is the family left out of the loop and not given any information at all? WHY??? Can someone tell me WHY the military is dropping their families on this???
It makes me angry!! I have researched information on ptsd...on the treatment...the symptoms. I've searched for PTSD support groups designed for family members. And in this area, they're few and far between. The best source to get one on one help as a spouse is through Military OneSource. There has to be more out there.
Luckily, I have a great group of friends who've been there for me through anything. I have wonderful friends in another group (Her War Her Voice) who've been amazing help as well. And that's about all I can say as far as learning to live with someone with PTSD. You need your own support system. And its basically going to be up to you to find it.
Please see a few resources below that I find helpful.....
http://www.familyofavet.com/secondary_ptsd.html (Secondary PTSD information)
http://www.familyofavet.com/parent_teacher_packet.html (parent/teacher packet for families with kids)