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A little common sense!

September 6, 2012

I get a lot of stuff on my email feed – from all sorts of groups; veterans and families, school, crafts, FRG and Cat Rescue.  Takes a while to dig through it all.  But this one… THIS ONE, made me stop and click on the link and read.      Family Matters Blog: Spouses Hold Front Line on Detecting Depression  go ahead – read it.  I’ll wait.

Amazing stuff, y’all.   Yup… I almost fell off my chair…  DCoE actually said this:

But when it comes to recognizing and treating mental health problems, such as depression, spouses are the first line of defense, some treatment professionals say.

“The spouse knows the patient better than I do; they’ve been living with them for years,” Dr. James Bender, a clinical psychologist with the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, told me today. “They’re kind of at the front line of this.”

These are the same folks who told military spouses, who were registered for their Resilience Conference, that their places were being given to uniform service members, since it was more important that they attend;  the same group that told a woman who was in civilian clothes to sit down so a guy in uniform could ask a question (maybe they should have asked for an ID from her –  an SFC in a dual military family….); whose resilience training for family members was to put us through a shortened Comprehensive Soldier Fitness class – with the same slides and exercises that are used for soldiers – some folks left wondering if they were in the wrong class!

How many times have I heard from the spouses of wounded warriors that they are disregarded, that their opinions are dismissed by the doctors, therapists and counselors.  I have been to training sessions that are dedicated only to making sure that we are there to support our spouses – telling us how to help our spouses adjust to being home – forgetting that we have to adjust as well; that we adjusted when they left, when they came back for R&R, when the deployment gremlins struck.  The upcoming Suicide Standdown is “open” to family members – but no childcare will be provided.  Of course, we haven’t been invited yet…

How nice of them to remember that we are the ones living with the service member – that we put up with the anger, the depression, the temper – 24 hours a day,7 days a week,  365 days a year – not the one hour a week that the service member  is in their office!!

How nice of them to remember that we are the ones who are watching our spouses in pain; the ones who have to explain to the kids why Daddy isn’t feeling good or why Mommy doesn’t want to go out and play.

How nice of them to remember that we exist – not that they count us – our suicides, our breakdowns are also disregarded, not counted, not important to them, unless we make the newspapers, that is!

How nice of them to remember that the service member they see once a week (or once a month) is not ONLY a veteran or a soldier/sailor/Marine/airman – they are ALSO a husband or wife, father or mother, sister or brother, son or daughter.  If they forget – and treat only the uniformed part,  they are treating just one part of that person; and that little part has to cooperate with all those other parts that make him a person, make her a part of a family.

Like I said.  Shocking, y’all.  So what lead to this sudden epiphany?  What lead to this DUH moment?  I’ll bet, I’ll give you odds, it’s a realization that as we face the reduction of services as belts are tightened, the spouses will be called on to do more and more.  After all, we are the unpaid workers of the military already, running the FRGs, care teams, volunteering thousands of hours on and off post.

The new report in the AMA recently talked about couples therapy helping with PTSD symptoms – well imagine that!  Treating the whole person – the entire soldier or sailor, has to include the significant other in his/her life!  Who will know more about Joe Soldier than the person he shares his home with, his bed with, his life with?  Who knows more about Jane Marine than the spouse who sits with her, who laughs and cries with her?

I know we need studies, and research and double blind studies and statistics – but we also need to use some common sense.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2012 10:30 am

    Agree with you 100%. The “authorities on the subject” really need to open their eyes, see and hear what the people, the soldiers, the spouses are telling them. We have known all along how hard this life is, how much our soldiers sacrifice. If they’d only listen…

  2. September 9, 2012 1:53 pm

    One of the things I’m doing now is helping homeless veterans find stable housing – for many of them, they’ve been on the streets for years, a decade or more in some cases. Always, in the back of my mind, and center of my heart, is the question,”What can we do so that two, three, four decades from now, there isn’t someone else sitting in my chair, helping homeless OIF/OEF vets?”
    And it always comes down the the veteran’s family, especially the spouse/partner. We are the firewall. But, as the caregiver of my own veteran with an 80% disability rating, I am profoundly socially isolated with no culturally competent mental health services, and no family support. The VA Caregiver training taught me all I needed to know (and already did!) about what’s involved with taking someone’s blood pressure, and how to lift with my legs and not with my back. But I have yet to learn how to carry the load of my spouse’s service-related invisible injuries without deeply hurting myself.

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