Last week my 14 year old son had to do a project titled “empathy with an outlet.” His project group chose to do a one minute video about PTSD in veterans.
He showed me the video.
I cried a little.
He said he knew I would.
It wasn’t just the video though. (Although it was touching and would drive any Mama to tears – photos set as they were to Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA) it was the idea behind the project.
These kids, still freshman in high school, were aware of PTSD and what it means for our veterans.
That is huge, friends, and impacting.
Next to my son leaving for the Army in the first place, my constant fear is of the “D” word – deployment.
There are a million fears and worries that any loved one will feel about deployment but one that maybe isn’t talked about as often is our fear of PTSD.
I don’t think I am alone in the fear.
What if my son comes home different? What if a darkness fills his mind and I can’t reach him, can’t stop it? Or worse..don’t know about it?
What if he doesn’t tell us? Feels like it would be weakness to reveal his struggle or pain?
“What if.. What if.. What if.. ” and on and on plays the anthem, the one of worried loved ones.
Lately, I have seen more and more posts on social media asking others to be aware of PTSD. I see websites and I see statistics. I see people imploring that veterans “seek help.”
You better believe that I will add to that desperate plea; will post it along with this write-up, actually.
Asking our men and women, those serving and those who have served, to please reach out for help.
But back to my son’s class project, back to these teens..they got me thinking..
Maybe the issue is that, in some ways, we talk about it too late and in doing so we make PTSD something less real..less threatening?
In school health classes, we discuss a million different issues which may afflict our children (once, in exasperation, after realizing my youngest knew nothing about digestion, I asked “Don’t you have health?” to which he said “yes. I learned about cyber-bullying..”)
Some issues that schools have worked hard to bring to light are those which pose a threat by choices kids make..smoking, unprotected sex, drug use.. and some issues which wield their biggest threat when a choice is made to hide what’s happening..physical abuse, bullying, sexual assault…
Well, maybe it’s time we teach them, that we have an enemy called PTSD and it seeks to attack and destroy our military.
And that it poses its biggest threat when it remains hidden.
Because, isn’t there a possibility, that maybe Peter in the second row of any public school in America, or Kelly in the back, or maybe Anthony-in the hallway for being a punk-might one day be serving this country in the Armed Forces? Shouldn’t they know the risk, know the signs?
Shouldn’t Kelly be told she can win the battle against PTSD, if it comes for her someday? But only if she remembers what she was once taught.. that it isn’t shameful, or weak, or something to hide.
Maybe we do need to start this conversation a lot sooner in order to completely remove the stigma, and bring in light.
22 active and retired service members a day..
.. dead by suicide..
.. most linked to PTSD..
.. is 22 too many.
Continue to urge veterans and active duty military in your life to GET HELP.
But also, if you are a parent, maybe start the conversation.
Bring this enemy into the light and out of the darkness where it thrives.
Just a thought.
If you are in crisis dial 911 or 800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) http://www.veteranscrisisline.net
Further reading, statistics and information can be found by clicking the following link: Veterans PTSD-statistics