Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#PTSD #VA #Veteran #Healthcare - Only a Phone Call Away...by #SharonPerry

My late husband and our two children

Help...is elusive especially for combat veterans and their families.  I don't know about modern day combatants but I do know what it was like for our family.  We are the family of a Vietnam veteran who suffered from untreated, chronic and severe PTSD.

I met my husband when I was 16 years old.  We married when I was just shy of 20 years of age.  I was indoctrinated into this lifestyle but was too young to really understand.  In our family everyone else was the enemy.

We were completely isolated from our surroundings.  We interacted with the outside world only when it was necessary.  And nothing we ever did was done just soley based on the abstract idea or notion that life could be an adventure.  Life was far from that; it was a struggle.  Hardship was our destiny but not really our choice.

Vietnam veterans were further stigmatized by their own country and were betrayed.  Trust was not a word in our vocabulary.  It was something I had to sustain with my husband in order to maintain sanity in our home.

After my husband's mother died he went off the deep end suffering from severe flashbacks.  This was a tumultuous and scary time for our family.  There was no where to turn and no one to help.  When I called the local hospital reaching out for help, they told me to call the police.

I did end up calling the police but was scared for us all.  I had to warn them he was not in his right mind and did not know who anyone was but he did need help.  The police did come to our home and convinced him to go to the VA hospital.  I knew better.  Once we drove out of the driveway they left.

My husband instructed me to drive around the corner and go home.  Eventually I did get him to go to the VA Clinic (It took longer because he had to wait months for an appointment) and we connected with others who knew what to do.  It made a difference because many of them were also Vietnam veterans suffering from PTSD.

The VA has spent more money on another study and found that help for many veterans is only one phone call away.  Maybe it is only one phone call away for veterans of other wars but not for Vietnam veterans and their families.  It would take a barrage of phone calls and a visit from the President himself to get a Vietnam veteran like my husband to get help.

Trust is further than one phone call away.

I'm not the veteran but in my home nothing got to him without going through me.  I suffer from PTSD also after having lived with it for 27 years until my husband's death in 2005.  I can tell you that taking phone calls is very difficult for me.  I don't make them or take them unless it's my children, or a loved one.

All other phone calls, and there are people who will tell you this is true, I will not answer or return.  I won't even listen to the voice mail.  I know my family is only one small example and we do have to look at the big picture.  I hope that they are right and all they need do is make one phone call.   

I feel that the VA failed our family; my children scarred for life.  I am not naive and realize these issues are complex.  What I do know is that some of the money that is spent should be used to hire veterans to reach out to other veterans.  This is a program that would be effective and money well spent.

Motivation for Mental Health Care.  All it Takes is a Phone Call

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