Healing for Military Men and Women

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Serving in the military and representing your country is an extremely brave and noble mission in life. Military men and women deserve our utmost respect, gratitude, and admiration. Serving in the military is an incredibly difficult sacrifice. Military service involves spending long periods of time away from family, friends, and the life that you’re used to. This duty also includes following orders and having little personal space. However, one of the most difficult parts of military service involves the experiences that the individual encounters along the way. 

Many military men and women have to experience incredible acts of violence and the tragic loss of life. Military members may even lose a fellow friend or partner. No matter what happens, these individuals are still encouraged to keep their pain on the inside and appear as tough as ever before. When this pain and trauma are not dealt with, many problems can develop for these individuals over time. 

Recognizing the Types of Military Trauma 

Many people who experience trauma while serving in the military are able to file it away for a certain point as is required of them. However, when they return home and no longer have the distraction of keeping up with their military responsibilities, this trauma can hit them out of nowhere. This can occur even decades after the individual completes their military duties. 

Military trauma can come in a lot of different forms. The verbal and sexual abuse of servicewomen — who are often widely outnumbered — is a tragic and all too common issue that can be very traumatic. Many of these women are underestimated or not taken seriously. 

Other military personnel suffer in different ways. These men and women know that life back home is continuing without them. They may have young children whose childhood they are missing out on. Moreover, they may have elderly family members that they can’t be with during their final days on earth. These stressors can all lead to mental trauma. 

Military personnel struggle with mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This issue is a result of the violence and horrific acts that they witnessed while on active duty. Certain images can be difficult for them to forget and can affect their ability to function in their daily lives. Many people who struggle with this disorder and don’t get help turn to substance use as a way to cope with the pain. This can lead to addiction and many other problems down the road. 

Recognizing the Signs of PTSD 

Many people who struggle with PTSD are haunted by their past trauma on a regular basis. Simple and harmless stimuli like a car backfiring or fireworks going off can trigger these individuals, as they can associate certain sounds with gunfire. These individuals may also experience intense flashbacks focused on traumatic memories. In these cases, the flashbacks are stronger than just a basic memory. People experiencing these flashbacks often feel as if they’re right back where they were when the trauma happened and that they’re reliving it all. 

Someone with PTSD may also struggle with distressing nightmares where they recall what they experienced. This issue can make the process of trying to fall asleep all the more challenging and intimidating. These struggles can increase one’s likelihood of turning to substance misuse in hopes of passing out and keeping the nightmares away. 

Some additional symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the traumatic event that one experienced 
  • Feelings of hopelessness 
  • Decreased interest in hobbies and activities one once enjoyed 
  • A need to isolate oneself from friends and family 
  • Experiencing blanks in memory in regard to the traumatic event one experienced 
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Being unable or unwilling to form relationships with others 
  • Experiencing poor self-esteem

Treating PTSD Among Military Men and Women 

Due to past experiences of being required to be tough at all times, some military men and women may have developed the false belief that asking for help is weak. On the contrary, trying to better oneself and heal is a very courageous step in the right direction. The first step for individuals who think they are struggling with PTSD is to acknowledge that they have experienced trauma and that the trauma is continuing to affect them. 

This is a difficult thing to do as it forces someone to accept their trauma and to admit that they need help. Forcing oneself to confront a painful memory that they have repressed for many years can be very intimidating. However, it is the first step in the healing process. 

Your next step is to seek professional help. Start by reaching out to your primary caregiver. They can help diagnose you with PTSD if they find it necessary. They’ll also provide you with prescription medication as they see fit. Finally, your primary caregiver will recommend that you speak with a therapist, encouraging you to begin processing your trauma in order to start your healing journey. 

Serving in the military and representing your country is an extremely brave and honorable sacrifice. Military men and women deserve our utmost respect, gratitude, and admiration. Serving in the military is an incredibly difficult sacrifice that can take a major toll on one’s mental health. Many people who serve in the military suffer from PTSD and other problems. When PTSD is not properly addressed, it can lead some people to turn to substance misuse as a way of coping with the pain. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Kimberly Center can help. Call (855) 452-3683 to learn more. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Kimberly Center Staff
Kimberly Center Staff
Publishing account for ADDICTION RECOVERY

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