Here in America, it’s easy to feel sheltered from much of the violence and suffering that goes on in the world every day. Although we have plenty of our own problems here at home, many of them pale in comparison to the armed conflict, natural disasters, and oppression that exist in other countries. In many ways, we owe this insulated feeling to our military and the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to carry out its missions.
Although they receive years of training, top of the line gear, and tactical support from some of the most advanced military technologies in the world, our veterans must face critical incidents and stressful situations that many of us can’t even imagine. That’s why so many return from deployment with some sort of emotional distress, often manifesting as PTSD.
As those who work with, are related to, or care about veterans, it’s our job to learn why helping someone with PTSD is so important and what we can do to support them after they return home. This goes for people in positions of leadership, family members, and most importantly, their peers.
Keep reading to learn more about how military service can create challenges in the life of a veteran, as well as how to help someone with PTSD as a result of exposure to military stresses
Common Relationship Problems For Veterans With PTSD
PTSD can cause problems in all aspects of a veteran’s life, from propensity for addiction to issues performing at work. However, for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus our discussion to the issues that someone with PTSD might experience in their relationships and at home.
- Marriage Problems – According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans with PTSD have more marital troubles than veterans without PTSD. This includes a doubled divorce rate, tendency to have multiple failed marriages, and tendency to have shorter relationships in general. After experiencing a critical incident in the line of duty, veterans with PTSD are less likely to share thoughts and feelings with their partners, especially when they’re negative. Lowered sexual interest and drive may also lead to marriage problems in veterans.
- Parenting Problems – Because of the high rate of mental illness among veterans with PTSD, it’s not surprising that parenting can often be an overwhelming challenge that they just can’t cope with. According to the VA, partners of veterans with PTSD reported that they often feel like they’re “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” because their partners symptoms often leave them to bear the burden of parenting alone.
- Familial Dysfunction – According to the VA, physical and verbal aggression is also more common in the families of veterans with PTSD, regardless of whether this familial violence ever occurred before the critical incident took place. Despite common assumptions, this phenomenon isn’t limited to male veterans either. In fact, some studies have shown that female veterans with PTSD are more likely to commit violence and commit more violence than their male counterparts.
The Best PTSD Support For Veterans Is Preparation
As peer support specialists providing PTSD support for veterans on a daily basis, we’ve learned that preparation is the best way to avoid these consequences of military stress. Instead of sending military personnel off to the front lines with the hope that they’ll be able to deal with its challenges, we believe that peer support should be used as a preventative measure. Proper critical incident counseling can help military personnel be more prepared for what they’re about to see and experience, giving them strategies that can prevent them from becoming totally overwhelmed by it.
Other Types Of PTSD Support For Veterans
We realize, however, that preparatory peer support isn’t always available or desired. In these situations, it’s important to make sure that PTSD support is in place and accessible immediately upon return. Other types of PTSD support for veterans include:
- Education about the effects of trauma on survivors and their families
- Support groups for both partners and veterans
- Individual therapy for both partners and veterans
- Couples or family counseling
PTSD Veteran Support Can’t Be The Family’s Burden Alone
In far too many cases, PTSD support is something that’s left up to spouses, parents, and friends of veterans, but this is far from the best way to go about helping someone with PTSD. What’s worse, leaving the responsibility of caregiving in the hands of loved ones alone can lead to secondary trauma, in which they start to develop their own mental health issues as the result of the stress of being their relative’s only source of support.
Here at Peer Support Central, we think that veterans and their families deserve more. If you’re interested in truly learning how to help someone with PTSD, contact us today. Our military training courses are designed to give you the skills and confidence you need to succeed as a veteran or peer support specialist for veterans.