**Disclaimer** PTSD effects many people all over the board. It is not only veterans that deal with PTSD but for the purposes of this post we will be discussing PTSD in veterans***
When you hear someone has PTSD tell me what you think? Do you think the worst a gun toting suicidal party who is going to open fire on a crowded street? This is the image that society has painted. I recently asked a group of veterans to tell me the first think they think when they hear the word PTSD.
“Generally i think of persons sent to do a job, and asked to perform at a level the general public can’t imagine. Witness events the mind wishes to forget. Forced to make instant life or death decisions. And do it all over and over again. This is not just our military but public safety. And then for doing what few can, seeing that which nobody should have to see, neither the public, medical field, nor our supervisors understand why we have nightmares and domestic relations issues.”
“Yes, most of what people thing of is the “Hollywood” version of a Vietnam Veterans & then now our current generation of Veterans from Desert Shield / Storm to OEF & OIF. The American people need to understand that not all veterans with PTSD are monsters, even if they have an episode now & then!”
Other veteran responses were simply single words, anxiety, fear, failure.
What is PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The Mayo Clinic describes PTSD Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Breaking down this definition we need to understand what a terrifying event is. What could it be? Well in all honesty it could be anything, I have seen people that suffer from PTSD from being bullied, to seeing the horrors of war. The terrifying event can be anything in reality that causes extreme emotional responses.
Symptoms of PTSD
These are a few of the most common aspects of PTSD. If left untreated it can be fatal.
So how do we bring awareness to a disease that is often referred to as a invisible wound? Veterans communities around the globe are all too aware of the 22 a day stat. It is estimated that 22 veterans a day lose their life to suicide and in general it relates back to this invisible wound.
I am not sure how many of you have watched Greys Anatomy but there is a classic example of PTSD in one of the main characters. Owen Hunt who was a trauma doc during the war. The scene plays out “Owen is laying in bed with his girlfriend Christina when the overhead ceiling fan begins to sound a lot like a helicopter, Christina awakes to being choked by Owen, who is having a nightmare and has no understanding of what he is doing until he see’s Christina once he is awake.” These are the images that society has placed in our minds about PTSD. The side that they do not portray is the soldier who feels like a failure for not being able to save each soldier in his/her platoon. It does not portray the survivors guilt that is felt among the soldiers who come home after an intense battle where there battle buddies were killed. Hollywood does not show how a veteran is constantly searching and planning an escape route in every situation they are in.
Knowledge is power when it comes to things like PTSD, society has very little knowledge about this invisible wound. Luckily for soldiers there are more and more support groups popping up on social media sites, while most members in the social media groups are not professional counselors or psychiatrists they have something in common, they are soldiers as well. Being a soldier, Marine, Army, Navy, Air Force it doesnt matter what branch you serve it creates a family and one thing you dont mess with is the family of a military member. It is brother and sisterhood that is hard to create, but once you are in you are in. Every soldiers death past, present and future, we hold in our hearts we may not grieve as if it was a parent but there is a respect that you can only understand if you are part of the brother/sisterhood.
Dog Trail Ranch is a dream that Rob and I have, A place where healing can happen a place where veterans, and other victims of PTSD can come together and have a bond. A place where judgement is the last thing you will worry about. Dog Trail Ranch is a place of healing and a new beginning, where a good hard days work can often settle a anxious mind. A day spent with the horses, learning to trust that the 1000 pound animal beneath you will carry you safely from point A to point B. also that the 1000 pound animal beneath you also has to trust that you will not put them in harms way, you will protect them. The battle of PTSD is a delicate dance that not only effects the victim but the families of the victims. It is not a battle that is won alone, it can not be fought alone. The only way to beat it is to deal with it and have support.