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Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:00

Military PTSD: Finding Hope in the Nightmares

Military PTSD Military PTSD

Written by a former active duty military personnel, currently employed at Gentle Path at The Meadows

In a world that is constantly in strife and war, we as a nation call upon the select few that have dedicated their lives in service to our country—the protectors of our freedom. Although the sound of military life may seem glamorous to some, the situations that these men and women find themselves in not only affect their lives, but the people’s lives who love them the most.

What soldiers experience in deployment will last longer than the smoke and sounds of gun fire; it is a constant memory that haunts you when awake and terrifies you when asleep. The nightmares are never ending until you finally face the trauma that haunts your life.

In these dark days a soldier tries to find hope in anything he or she can, not only for themselves, but for their families; it’s the little things, things that so many take for granted in the normal hustle and bustle of life. Things like the laughter of a child, the rain pouring down, a warm thank you from a stranger, a gentle kiss on the check, and even the wind on your face can for a second take away the gnawing pain in your heart. But even in these moments the things you did, the things you’ve see, the lives you impacted, the faceless terrors you encountered, hide in the shadows constantly reminding you of those memories, of that pain, every day.

However, in the midst of all of this pain and hurt, service men and women stand on the military values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Self Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Finding a place that shares in these values and longs to see lives changed is hard, but it is an important part of healing and a necessary path that we must walk on. I asked myself several times how important it was for me to face my demons, and the answer was always “Very.” Waking up in a cold sweat—my best friend sitting there worrying, trying to make the nightmares leave—I realized that trauma doesn’t just change your life, but all the lives of the people you love most.

What kind of a soldier would I be if I didn’t protect those I love? Without facing my demons, how can I overcome them? Without overcoming them, how can I truly be free? Without being free how can I fully live in love, life, beauty and everything else this world has to offer away from the wars I faced? So I have the choice to face it, putting a new example on the idea of personal courage and self-sacrifice, still holding true to those values that I swore to honor and respect and carry with me as part of the uniform I wore.

Every day military personnel put on that uniform, tie up their boots and head into the fire fights that await, battles by our side, with our families praying at home, dreaming that one day their loved one will come home safe. However, even at home these individuals are not fully safe from themselves and the memories that torment them with every breath. But there is hope for a better life, and there is a future once the smoke fades and the ringing of the bullets dies.

The importance of healing from the effects of war can make or break the rest of your life. Support is rare, and it’s often hard to find a positive place to work out the battle wounds—a safe place to heal with no judgment. However, it does exist and there is hope. When searching for a safe place to do my own work, I was urged to look for someone/some place that holds my same values—sage advice.

It’s called LIFE, it’s called FREEDOM and it’s what we fight everyday to defend, so it’s time to fight for ourselves and our families by taking back our FUTURES.

Need Help?

The Meadows is honored to provide behavioral health and substance abuse inpatient services, with an emphasis on trauma, PTSD, and addictive disease disorders, to active duty military members, retirees and dependents of the TRICARE West Region. The Meadows has a long history of working with TRICARE beneficiaries as a non-contracted provider. We are tremendously proud to help serve the health care needs of service members, veterans, and their families, and would be happy to help determine eligibility and benefits that can be utilized at The Meadows. We are committed to helping military beneficiaries and partnering with all aspects of the TRICARE healthcare alliance. For more information, call us at 800-244-4949 or go visit our contact page.

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