The Saturday Morning Review–”Love our Vets”

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The Saturday Morning Review
 

One of the sad facts about the many deployments our service men and women are called upon to do is the possibility of traumatic after-effects.

Yes, that’s been given a name: PTSD–Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But, for those who have a loved one who has been diagnosed with PTSD, the label doesn’t necessarily help.

What might help, however, are books like Welby O’Brien’s Love Our Vets: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD.

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(Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Love Our Vets by Tell Us the Truth Reviews for the purpose of reviewing it. No other compensation was received and the opinions given are my own. You can read my complete Disclosure Policy if you so desire.)

From the book:

Love Our Vets answers more than 60 heartfelt questions, providing down-to-earth wisdom and much-needed tips for taking care of yourself. Sharing as a counselor and from her personal experience of living with a 100% disabled veteran with PTSD, Welby O’Brien gives hope, encouragement, and practical help for families and loved ones who are caught in the wake of the trauma. This book addresses a broad spectrum of issues and concerns and offers realistic wisdom from a wide variety of individuals who share from real hearts and lives.

This is not a psychology book. Written in an easy-to-read question and answer format, Love Our Vets helps the average person understand some of what goes on in a PTSD victim’s mind and heart. The book includes many real-life scenarios from different families which help shed light on this difficult disorder.

Let me share with you one of my favorite quotes from the book.

Do not try to fix…just love. Be with. Fixing says, ‘You are not okay until you are better…you have to change to be good enough.’ We are not told to fix each other’s problems, but to bear each other’s burdens. That is compassion. That compassion heals. Scientists and psychologists are discovering that healing the actual physical brain happens with love and ‘being with.’ The body chemistry changes when it is being loved.

Connection is the key.

Suffering will happen, and it is not the worst thing. Suffering alone is the worst thing. God never intended us to be alone.

The book is broken up into three main sections: REAFFIRM–Our Questions, REPLENISH–Our Needs, and REFLECT–Our Wisdom.

I would heartily recommend Love Our Vets! If you, or someone you know, has a loved one with PTSD, please consider picking up a copy. And, if you’d like to learn more, you can visit Welby O’Brien’s website at LoveOurVets.org.

Pertinent book information

  •     Book Title: Love Our Vets
  •     Author: Welby O’Brien
  •     ISBN #: 9781937756642
  •     Publisher: Deep River Books
  •     Publishing Date: 2012
  •     Price: $15.99

Monday Meditation

31 Days of the Military Spouse

 

“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.

And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: ‘O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.

‘It is true, O Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands.

‘Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.’” 2 Kings 19:14-19 (NIV)

When my husband was deployed, this story in the life of Hezekiah was one that I returned to again and again.

Hezekiah was facing a very real fear. The Assyrians, a vicious army known for their cruelty and domination, were camped on his doorstep. The Assyrian king was waging an intimidating psychological battle on Hezekiah and his leaders and in this passage had written a letter meant to scare them into abandoning their belief that God would save them.

Instead of panicking (at least Scripture doesn’t say he panicked) Hezekiah took the letter to the temple, opened it up, and said, (paraphrasing, of course) “God, do you see what this king is saying about you?! Yes, his army is nasty and has decimated all the countries around us, but I know that you are the true God and you’re the only one who can do anything about this!”

In the midst of my very real fears for my husband’s safety, I had to remind myself many times that though I had no power or ability to do anything about the situation, God did.

He still does. 

In the midst of all my fears, I can take the words of the enemy to the God of the universe and ask Him to make Himself known in whatever situation I face.

Reintegration

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We lived through a year-long deployment. Yes, it was 3 1/2 years ago, but the memories are still fresh.

It was a difficult, growing, stretching, bittersweet time for us as a family. However, one of the most stressful aspects of deployment came, not in the “during” but in the “after”–the back-together phase. Here’s what I wrote about that time:

 

By the time we got to CA to pack our things up, we were somewhat frazzled. We realized reintegrating our lives would be a process. After being apart for so long, you get used to doing things a certain way. The girls struggled with processing some emotions, and Ron and I struggled with figuring out how to be together again. It sounds strange that that would have to be done, but it did.

It actually took us the whole next year to work through residual issues from the deployment. I had become somewhat independent, the girls had to get used to Dad being around again, Ron had some emotional issues surrounding what he experienced while deployed, and we dealt with a lot of anger. I think what made it harder is that all this kind of took us by surprise. Nobody told us to expect this kind of stuff or that it would take so long to work through things. There were times during that year when I wondered if we would survive. It’s sad, but it is no longer a surprise to me that marriages don’t survive deployments.

 

Like I said then, what made it harder was that it took us so much by surprise. (Side note: if there’s one thing I could share with all military couples, it would be that even in the strongest marriages, there will most likely be post-deployment struggles.)

 

Flash forward to now.

Even though not deployed overseas, my husband just returned home from an assignment he had been away for since June. Once again we find ourselves in adjustment mode, though not nearly on the same scale as post-deployment.

So, I want to put into practice the lessons we learned during that time! I also want to share a few of those lessons here, because I believe they can be applicable anytime you might find yourself in a period of adjustment and change.

 

    • Lesson #1:  Acknowledge that adjusting to change is a PROCESS. Don’t expect too much too soon. Celebrate the small, along-the-way victories. Pray through the process.

 

    • Lesson #2:  Talk about everything! The trap I got caught in was one of false guilt. I would tell myself I “shouldn’t” be feeling a certain way, and would therefore keep what was going on my heart and head to myself. Bad idea, trust me. And truthfully, this is not a lesson learned–it’s a lesson still being learned!

 

    • Lesson #3:  Be aware of expectations you may have. Don’t assume things. I assumed that after deployment we would be so happy to be together again (and we were!) there would be no problems (which there were!)

 

    • Lesson #4:  Give grace, grace, and more grace. Give it to yourself, your spouse, your kids, your friends. In whatever changing circumstance you find yourself, remember that change means new. New means nobody really knows what they’re doing.

 

(I also know that my Chaplain husband would want me to mention that during times of uncertainty, unsettledness, and readjustment, serious issues can show up. Please, please do not be afraid to seek help from a Chaplain or counselor!)

What lessons have you learned during times of change or uncertainty?