This isn’t a blog but more of a forum. Its a conglomeration of veteran and family voices that are dealing not just with PTSD but with life after combat in general. This isn’t just for new vets or old vets or veteran supporters but for everyone who either has dealt or is dealing with the struggle. This place, this forum, is also for those who want a realistic perspective of what life after combat really is, its a daily struggle of normal people. What follows is the original post on the forum, in a way our Declaration of Intent. One thing has changed though, replace the “I” through out the post with “We” because there are now many of us who contribute.
On the heels of losing another soldier I served with I have decided its time to try to do something about it. Soldier’s dying in combat happens, its horrible, its hard, but its reality. Losing military service members when they are back stateside, either to suicide or drinking themselves to death, is unacceptable. We as fellow service members should not stand idly by and let this happen. We the ones who made it out, came back, had the issues but have somehow learned to cope or overcome, shouldn’t sit there quietly and let this happen to the ones that are struggling. So the idea has begun to hatch.
Create a place for Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and the Coast Guard to openly talk about the things we saw over there and during the course of our duties and what it did to us mentally and emotionally when we got back. This is an incredibly taboo thing. We as grunts are taught to be self-sufficient and resilient. We often consider ourselves to be 10 feet tall & bulletproof and when faced with something of the emotional magnitude of losing buddies, seeing the carnage, and dealing with that day in and day out fear, we tend to bury it or drown it in alcohol. This is made blatantly obvious by the sky-rocketing suicide rate. But I am not just wanting the horror stories, I want to know how we have gotten over living through that and how we coped when we got back, so that others may learn from our success.
Common problems and why I think this might be helpful. First off, we all know that getting help in todays military is getting “easier”. We all still know that going to get professional help can cause a whole mess of headaches with the chain of command. It is harder still for we as service members to swallow our pride and admit we can’t handle it on our own. Second, sometimes the help you do get ain’t worth the time you spent driving to it. Now if you are seriously considering suicide or having ideation go get the professional help. If you just want to be able to breathe in a crowd, the brown paper bag full of anti-anxiety meds they throw at you is not always what you are looking for. Frankly, the head shrinkers don’t get it. Its no fault of their own but most have never pulled a trigger, heard the whistle of a rocket, felt the heat off an IED, or can even imagine what its like to lose brothers and sisters. Beyond that they have never experienced that crazy half panic half murderous rage feeling that a lot of us get the first time we walk through a shopping mall again or woke up from a nightmare that had you reliving that trauma again and again.
So if we can’t get the advice we want from somebody thats never been there who better to ask than those who have. We need to spread the communication and knowledge between us all. We need tactics, strategys, field-craft not the junk out of the field manual of “How to make grunts shut up about what they are going through” but real tangible ways of overcoming not just the trauma but also what combat turns you into. So I turn to you, the veterans reading this, I want stories, tactics, ideas, problems, thoughts, and opinions. Answering questions like, How did you tackle the issue? What was it that was bugging you? Any tricks for coping? Are there things that trigger memories, like smells or sounds? Just throw something up here and we will try to make it into topics, so service members have a place to go. Either post a comment or email me if you want it anonymous, make sure you give me a contact email so I can get with you if I need to, to make sure the message gets across.
I know this seems a little wishful thinking, but imagine that if what you had to say helped save a service member’s life. You’d run under fire to save him, can’t you type a few words of how you learned to deal to save him too? Once you do that, spread the word, the guys still in give it to your subordinates, spread it to your buddies, post it on your Facebook and Myspace. If we manage to help just one person it was a worth-while endeavor.