This has been coming up for me a lot recently. I'd like to explain. I'm an OIF vet. I was in Special Operations, and to answer your question, it's not
as glamorous as it sounds. I've had a lot of issues since the war. I came home in '06 and I still have problems. I would like for something to be here
on ATS for vets who are coming home to know that there are people they can talk to, and for the families of vets. I did a search, and there was a lot
of anti vet stuff. Let this be a breather area for vets and please let there be no anti vet statements here.
I'm in college right now, and I have women talking to me about their vet boyfriends. They have questions that I haven't seen answered anywhere.
I'd like this to be a repository for information that vets and family members can add to.
1. What can I expect when I/my loved one deploys?
If you are a family member, you can talk to your FRG rep, in the Navy, they are called ombudsmen . This is usually a wife or a soldier. Those people
can contact both you, and the unit. The best thing is to get with people who are a positive influence when your soldier is deployed. If you get with
an FRG that is depressed or bitter, chances are they will drag you down. If you have trouble with the official groups, there will usually be an off
site group that will help you.
While deployed, a soldier's letters will change. Some will become more pessimistic, I became more fatalistic(assuming I'd die in Iraq) this was hard
on my mother and father. My fiance about lost her mind. It happens and you just need to toss a lot of positive thoughts their way. If you think there
is a serious issue, contact FRG and have them contact a Chaplin.
You'll see a bit of both positive and negative thoughts from a soldier as he gets ready to process home. Some will look forward to it. Some won't
believe they'll make it. Take nothing personal, and let the negative roll off your shoulder. I liken this to an army rucksack. Picture a soldier
having to pack a bunch of rocks in his ruck, when there are too many rocks, they fall out. You have the unfortunate position of being the overlap.
Sometimes, a soldier lets lose when he can't carry all of those rocks. He's just shaking a few out. It doesn't mean he's angry at you, he just has to
get it out. There's a serious relief from stepping on the plane to come home, but that brings new problems.
A lot of times, actually most times, coming home is stressful. I think most of the problems come from people not seeing where the other is coming
from. We come home thinking things are going to be all sunshine and unicorns. That's not the case. I seriously was awed by trees and was freaked out
by interstate traffic. My first trip to the grocery store confused the hell out of me.
These are things that happen to most vets. Most family members are wanting the same person to come home as they sent off a year prior. That's not
going to happen. The best thing you can do is walk that fine line of being patient and not condescending. The best thing is to say, "Hey, we need to
go to the store", and let him follow you and familiarize himself with how to do things again. You have to remember, you've held the pieces together
for a long time, and he's just remembering what those pieces are.
He's not going to understand household chores. You have to slowly introduce them into it. Start by making chores he is used to as the main chores.
Common areas are easy. That's the coffee and microwave area and the bathroom. Work your way in fairly from there. Start with the easy ones and then
work the duties rotationally until you're back in your pre-deployment routine.
Then work him into shopping. At this stage, it is best to have him help you with certain things while you get the routine down. Seriously, there is no
detail that is too specific. Take if from a guy who spent five minutes staring at all the varieties of milk( why do we need so many... really?). After
a while, cut the shopping list in half and double check. Don't make a big deal about missed items. He forgot how to shop, you don't know how to clean
and reassemble and M-4. Be patient. He'll get back in the swing of things.
Common reasons for dispute. This is a big problem. A lot of people play the blame game, I'm not here for that. I've been on both sides of this fence,
and I'm here to tell you what my opinion is.
The family is expecting son/father/husband/wife etc... home as they left them. That's not going to happen. I'll relate a story. I had no idea what I
had lost until I visited a man once worked for who was a Marine Corps Vietnam Vet. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Welcome to the club, I
didn't think you'd see action over there". The guy knew what I had seen. Combat vets generally know other combat vets. It's not like in the movies
where you have a creepy guy with the infamous "1000 yard stare". It's a sense of being alert.
I had a situation the other day where I was scanning to my left and right, and behind me every once and a while. My girlfriend asked what I was doing.
I felt embarrassed trying to explain that I was checking my 3, 9, and 6. I didn't do it intentionally. However, that's how I'm wired now. It's been
five years and I still do that. Don't make your vet feel embarrassed about that. Just show that you understand why he's doing it.
3. Now we get into the nitty gritty. This is the thing I get contacted in my personal life more than anything. The troubled vet. I want you to say
this out loud, this is a combat vet saying this to you "Being nice is not worth my life". If someone hits you once, threatens to hit you, or worse,
leave immediately. This isn't a romance novel, this is serious. You're not going to win him over with the power of love. If a vet is showing signs of
being seriously disturbed, your first duty is to your own safety and the safety of any children involved.
I have had flashbacks. That was my main indicator that I needed help. Thank god no one I loved was around at that time. I just had to suffer
professional embarrassment. I was arrested for my own safety and the safety of the public. Some flashbacks can kill. Nightmares are an early
indicator. Constant stress is a big issue. A few of my friends described me as a spring that was pushed and ready to go.
This happens to some vets. The best thing you can do is tell them "For my own safety, and the safety of others, you need to get into a treatment
These are just the major points. A lot of vets don't have any PTSD symptoms. Sometimes, you're just going to have to deal with a person who is
accustomed to being in charge. It might seem like the person is a prick. That's not the case. This is just a person who has to be dominate(ie bail out
of the vehicle now!!!) or other people die. This happened to people I've known. They come home with that same attitude and they don't see any problem
with it. There is nothing malicious in it, they just can't understand why they can't give a simple order to people they aren't in charge of. You just
have to ease them back into that.
In my case, I still have problems. You can't cure them, but you can manage them. It takes support, it takes professional help, and it takes taking it
one day at a time.
I'd like this to be a thread for strictly people in OIF/OEF and families, as well as those who came before us.
edit on 4-6-2011 by 43mike
because: (no reason given)
edit on 4-6-2011 by 43mike because: (no reason given)