In the last week, we’ve heard from several family members of Veterans recently diagnosed with or working through Post-Traumatic Stress. Generally, these have fallen into two categories: moms of Veterans and wives of Veterans. Today, I’d like to talk about the first of these – moms and parents of comabt Vets working through PTSD.
A mom reached out to us two weeks ago looking for a support group specific to parents of grown children working through combat-related PTSD. She wanted learn how she could best support her son who recently returned from Afghanistan, and, moreover, she wanted to connect with other parents for support. She had tried to find a group with which she could connect to no avail and asked if we could help.
I naively thought this would be a google search away and agreed to help her find some resources. But my queries came up dry – several times. While there were some very specific groups (go, Marine Moms – you have the market cornered in terms of supporting your kids) I consistently struck out when trying to find parents’ support groups for those with grown children affected by Combat Stress.
So, I went to our online community and put out a call to our supporters. Rather than the suggestions rolling in, I heard painfully little feedback. Instead, I received several other e-mails that week asking us to please pass along the information for parents’ support groups when we found them or to post them on our site and through social media. Several days passed and I sent several more e-mails before getting a response from Cheryl Gansner at Operation Homefront:
Our program is opened to female caregivers of wounded, ill or injured service members. This includes mothers, grandmothers, sisters, etc. We do have an online forum that is private where these mothers could go and talk. I can create a thread just for them as well. They would need to register with our program and we will send them out a lovely care package just for joining. Please invite them to join.
When I received Cheryl’s e-mail on the 26th, I immediately set out to spread the news through our Facebook page, and the positive response was overwhelming. This is truly an under-served community – and a powerful one. Mothers can truly change the national conversation on Post-Traumatic Stress.
Our experience these past two weeks have us rethinking The Veterans’ PTSD Project a bit. I have to admit that when Joan and I wrote the writers guidelines for PTSD Project writers in 2010, we did not anticipate the response we would get from family members and those who love and support Combat Veterans. These communities deserve more support, and we decided to extend it this week by updating our writers’ guidelines so that more family members will tell their stories and touch their readers in a powerful way by speaking to them directly.
My hope for you today is that you will reach out through your experiences to help others. Think of starting a support group for parents and family members of Combat Vets working through PTSD in your Vet Center, church or community group and reach out to a community that has been quiet and strong. Also, I hope that spouses, parents and other family members will consider writing for The Veterans’ PTSD Project. This is your opportunity to write a “road map” for the person who is where you were. Your readers are looking for encouragement, and many just need reassurance from someone who has been there to get the help they need. This is why your story is especially powerful.
This is the place. Now is the time. You are the one.