Dr. Patrick Brodnik
Services for Veterans and Family Members of Veterans
In traditional cultures, it was common for returning veterans to discuss their war stories in detail with their fellow comrades, families, and community.
In Native American Tribes, telling one's stories of loss, risk, sorrow, and courage was a requirement for one to transition from boyhood to manhood. In 2017, we call this male bonding.
In Celtic times, poets (story tellers) would go off to battle with soldiers in order to witness and narrate the battle. Afterward, they would memorialize the soldiers’ struggles, sacrifices, courage, bravery, sorrow, and victory through the art of poetry and storytelling.
Telling our stories helps us put the fragmented pieces of war back together again, so we can feel we fit somewhere in this life. Like putting a puzzle together, telling our story help us sort through the pieces of what occurred in order to reveal the larger story of what happened to us and the meaning we might discover in it.
The Second-Leading Cause of Combat
Injury is PTSD
- Feeling out of place
- Feeling like you don't fit anywhere
- Feeling compelled to return to active duty
- Feeling like you can't tell anyone about your experiences because they keep telling you how proud they are of you and how brave you are
- Feeling alone when you're around people
- Feeling like you're losing your mind
- Asking: "Why can't I be who I was before?" "Who am I now?"
- Feeling like a ghost
- Feeling a deep sense of "Soul Sickness"
- Recognizing that people are afraid of you and scared to be around you
- Looking in the mirror and noticing that you look different
- Noticing that you maintain an intense look, gaze, or stare
- Feeling like your going to explode or implode
- Staying up late or all night playing video games, watching TV, and/or partying because you can't or don't want to go to sleep
- Getting into fights, arguments, driving aggressively, getting into trouble with the law
- Using alcohol and/or drugs to be able to "FEEL" or "NOT FEEL"
- Spending lots of money on alcohol, drugs, and stuff
- Experiencing sexually difficulties (wanting it too much; feeling like you're addicted to porn; wanting sex, but not wanting to be intimate; sexual aggression; feeling uncomfortable while having sex; having no desire for sex or intimacy)
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling like you're still in the combat zone
- Feeling like you're always on edge and on guard
- Not feeling close to anyone and feeling disconnected from people you love
- Experiencing a host of relationship problems
- Not liking yourself anymore
- Having intrusive thoughts, feelings, and reminders about what happened
- Mood swings, depression, irritability, angry outbursts, anxiety
- Having difficulty not thinking about what happened during deployment
- Having a host of physical complaints
- Having thoughts of ending your life and/or the life of others
What Can I Do If I Think I
I Love Has PTSD?
If you think you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD, it's important to get support. Treatment can work, and early treatment can improve one's quality of life and help reduce long-term symptoms.
If you think you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD:
- Call me today for a free consultation.
- Talk about it
- Talk to your family doctor.
- Talk to a mental health professional, such as a therapist.
- Talk to a close friend or family member. He or she may be able to support you and find you help.
- Talk to a spiritual leader.
- Fill out a PTSD screen and take it with you to the doctor. While this online PTSD screen asks about stressful military experiences, you can also answer the questions as they would apply to any other kind of trauma.
Why Seek Support?
- Symptoms of PTSD may get worse. Dealing with them now might help stop them from getting worse in the future. Finding out more about what treatments work, where to look for help, and what kind of questions to ask can make it easier to get help and lead to better outcomes.
- PTSD symptoms can get in the way of your family life. You may find that you pull away from loved ones, are not able to get along with people, or that you are angry or even violent. Getting help for your PTSD can help improve your family life.
- PTSD symptoms can worsen physical health problems. For example, a few studies have shown a relationship between PTSD and heart trouble. By getting help for your PTSD, you could also improve your physical health.
- Having symptoms of PTSD does not always mean you have PTSD. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are also symptoms for other mental health problems. For example, trouble concentrating or feeling less interested in things you used to enjoy can be symptoms of both depression and PTSD. Since different problems have different treatments, it's important to have your symptoms assessed.While it may be tempting to identify PTSD in yourself or someone you know, the diagnosis generally is made by a mental health professional.
Helping a Family Member
Who Has PTSD:
When someone has PTSD, it can change family life. The person with PTSD may act differently and get angry easily. He or she may not want to do things you used to enjoy together. You may feel scared and frustrated about the changes you see in your loved one. You also may feel angry about what's happening to your family, or wonder if things will ever go back to the way they were.
These feelings and worries are common in people who have a family member with PTSD. It is important to learn about PTSD so you can understand why it happened, how it is treated, and what you can do to help. But you also need to take care of yourself. Changes in family life are stressful, and taking care of yourself will make it easier to cope.
How can I help?
- You may feel helpless, but there are many things you can do. Nobody expects you to have all the answers. Here are ways you can help:
- Learn as much as you can about PTSD. Knowing how PTSD affects people may help you understand what your family member is going through. The more you know, the better you and your family can handle PTSD.
- Offer to go to doctor visits with your family member. You can help keep track of medicine and therapy, and you can be there for support.
- Tell your loved one you want to listen and that you also understand if he or she doesn't feel like talking.
- Plan family activities together, like having dinner or going to a movie.
- Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or do some other physical activity together. Exercise is important for health and helps clear your mind.
- Encourage contact with family and close friends. A support system will help your family member get through difficult changes and stressful times.
Your family member may not want your help. If this happens, keep in mind that withdrawal can be a symptom of PTSD. A person who withdraws may not feel like talking, taking part in group activities, or being around other people. Give your loved one space, but tell him or her that you will always be ready to help.
How can I deal with anger or violent behavior?
Your family member may feel angry about many things. Anger is a normal reaction to trauma, but it can hurt relationships and make it hard to think clearly. Anger also can be frightening.If anger leads to violent behavior or abuse, it's dangerous. Go to a safe place and call for help right away. Make sure children are in a safe place as well.It's hard to talk to someone who is angry. One thing you can do is set up a time-out system. This helps you find a way to talk even while angry. Here's one way to do this:
- Agree that either of you can call a time-out at any time.
- Agree that when someone calls a time-out, the discussion must stop right then.
- Decide on a signal you will use to call a time-out. The signal can be a word that you say or a hand signal.
- Agree to tell each other where you will be and what you will be doing during the time-out. Tell each other what time you will come back.
While you are taking a time-out, don't focus on how angry you feel. Instead, think calmly about how you will talk things over and solve the problem. After you come back:
- Take turns talking about solutions to the problem. Listen without interrupting.
- Use statements starting with "I," such as "I think" or "I feel." Using "you" statements can sound accusing.
- Be open to each other's ideas. Don't criticize each other.
- Focus on things you both think will work. It's likely you will both have good ideas.
- Together, agree which solutions you will use.
How can I communicate better?
- You and your family may have trouble talking about feelings, worries, and everyday problems. Here are some ways to communicate better:
- Be clear and to the point.
- Be positive. Blame and negative talk won't help the situation.
- Be a good listener. Don't argue or interrupt. Repeat what you hear to make sure you understand, and ask questions if you need to know more.
- Put your feelings into words. Your loved one may not know you are sad or frustrated unless you are clear about your feelings.
- Help your family member put feelings into words. Ask, "Are you feeling angry? Sad? Worried?"
- Ask how you can help.
- Don't give advice unless you are asked.
If your family is having a lot of trouble talking things over, consider trying family therapy. Family therapy is a type of counseling that involves your whole family. A therapist helps you and your family communicate, maintain good relationships, and cope with tough emotions. During therapy, each person can talk about how a problem is affecting the family.
Family therapy can help family members understand and cope with PTSD.Your health professional or a religious or social services organization can help you find a family therapist who specializes in PTSD.
How can I take care of myself?
Helping a person with PTSD can be hard on you. You may have your own feelings of fear and anger about the trauma. You may feel guilty because you wish your family member would just forget his or her problems and get on with life. You may feel confused or frustrated because your loved one has changed, and you may worry that your family life will never get back to normal.
All of this can drain you. It can affect your health and make it hard for you to help your loved one. If you're not careful, you may get sick yourself, become depressed, or burn out and stop helping your loved one.
To help yourself, you need to take care of yourself and have other people help you. Care for yourself:
- Don't feel guilty or feel that you have to know it all. Remind yourself that nobody has all the answers. It's normal to feel helpless at times.
- Don't feel bad if things change slowly. You cannot change anyone. People have to change themselves.
- Take care of your physical and mental health. If you feel yourself getting sick or often feel sad and hopeless, see your doctor.
- Don't give up your outside life. Make time for activities and hobbies you enjoy. Continue to see your friends.
- Take time to be by yourself. Find a quiet place to gather your thoughts and "recharge."
- Get regular exercise, even just a few minutes a day. Exercise is a healthy way to deal with stress.
- Eat healthy foods. When you are busy, it may seem easier to eat fast food than to prepare healthy meals. But healthy foods will give you more energy to carry you through the day.
- Remember the good things. It's easy to get weighed down by worry and stress. But don't forget to see and celebrate the good things that happen to you and your family.
Get help during difficult times, it is important to have people in your life who you can depend on. These people are your support network. They can help you with everyday jobs, like taking a child to school, or by giving you love and understanding. You may get support from:
- Family members.
- Friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
- Members of your religious or spiritual group.
- Support groups.
- Doctors and other health professionals
Defense Center of excellence Outreach Centers
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain injury is the open door of the Department of Defense for those in the U.S. Armed Forces and their families needing assistance with psychological health and traumatic brain injury (TBI) issues. For 24/7 assistance, call 1-866-966-1020 to speak with a trained health resource consultant at the DCoE Outreach Center. The Real Warriors Campaign http://www.realwarriors.net/ is an initiative of the DCoE to combat the stigma associated with seeking psychological health care and treatment.
U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs
If you are a veteran and have concerns related to readjusting to civilian life, you can call: 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387) or contact the VA Centers near at the following link: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1
If you're a homeless veteran or veteran at risk of homelessness in need of assistance, you can call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at : 1877-4AI-VET (424-3838) or visit:
TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief, and trauma resources, seminars, case work assistance, and 24/7 crisis intervention care for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces. Services are provided free of charge. For more information go to the website or call: 1-800-959-TAPS.
Military OneSource is a free service provided by the U.S. Department of Defense for active duty Guard and Reserve and their families. The group offers resources and consultations on a host of issues, such as: education, relocation, parenting, and stress. Call 1-800-343-9647, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
National Crisis and Suicide Lifeline
1800-273-TALK (8255) is a 24-hour confidential crisis and suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in emotional distress or suicidal.
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