I was standing on the Waverley Bridge at Bowmanville, Ontario, on the Highway of Heroes as the military funeral procession passed underneath and thought, “At last Canadians are recognizing the sacrifices our military make,” and then wondered, “What about the living? What happens to the wounded warriors who return home? Where is the support for their sacrifice?”
Once I asked this question, a tragic story evolved – one that continues and leaves my heart very heavy – Canada’s veterans have been forced to fight against the very country they have faithfully served for their own survival and rights. This battle spurred my launching HOMECOMING VETS. It was an effort to collect information to help veterans help themselves in their daily struggle to regain their health and self-respect. In the years since my first blog, I have become close friends with some of the finest Canadians I have ever known.
My focus for 2013 was to help those suffering with PTSD as a result of their military services and indirectly to help their spouses and families cope with the staggering fallout they suffer along with their partners and loved ones as they struggle to cope with this sometimes devastating condition. This has led to the creation of the PTSD FORUM with psychologist Dr. Dee Rajska and Robert Simpson leading with self-help suggestions for groups of vets formed to share their PTSD symptoms and coping struggles. As I retire, I am proud to hand over what Homecoming Vets has built to both these fine people, and I encourage all my blog’s followers to join their blogs where you can carry on learning and sharing how to survive with PTSD.
The PTSD FORUM carries on with Dr. Dee Rajska on her COMING BACK HOME blog at http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/comingbackhome.
Please join Dee there and carry on your discussions. Dee designed COMING BACK HOME to provide information and support for soldiers/veterans with Operational Stress Injuries and their families. The goals of Dee’s blog are to present good, solid facts about where PTSD comes from and what causes it, and how to manage symptoms; as well as to present this information in clear, easy-to-understand language that is accessible to anyone.
This is Rob’s last contribution to HOMECOMING VETS based on his Facebook writings. His advice and observations are down-to-earth sensible. Carry on, Rob! You are making important headway for you and your group.
A Veterans Point of View By Robert Simpson
One of PTSD’s allies is a lack of sleep. PTSD is a cunning Beast. It waits until you are in a weakened state and then it strikes hard and it knock’s you down. It seems like it knows your weaknesses and it uses them against you. So the more tired you are the worse it affects you. I’m sure that, if you think about it, you’ll realize that your worst days are after you’ve been without sleep for awhile, when you are worn down and so tired. But when you are well-rested, you find that you can handle it so much better. Sleep and rest is an important element to battling the effects of your Flashbacks and nightmares. I have found that out over the years. Now I try to have regular exercise and a good diet; it helps you to endure PTSD’s worst attacks.
Also if you cut down or out the booze it’ll help. Drinking may help you to pass out and to get a few hours of sleep with no nightmares, but when you wake up, that old nasty PTSD is waiting. Now it’s 10 times worse as it’ll now enter your awake times, thus you have flashbacks.
Why? Well it’s because, while you were passed out, your body really didn’t rest. You would be surprised I’ll bet, to know you were most likely thrashing and tossing about as you were unconscious. Then you wake up and you are still tired. You defenses are down. This makes you at greater risk to have more episodes of PTSD. Doctors will tell you that too much drinking will cause you increased problems. The military actually use to tell us that if we were having problems to drink more beer at the mess. Of course they didn’t know how to help us with nightmares or flashbacks, but they knew how to handle a drunk Soldier. No. This wasn’t the solution to the problem. In fact it makes the problem worse for you.
Thankfully they are learning how to handle us now. True, there are still those in the Military who might think that you might have a yellow streak or are weak. But truth be known, they have not learned yet. In fact, I’ll bet they too are having problems and don’t know how to handle it themselves.
Thankfully they, the Doctors, are learning how to treat us and thankfully the Military is starting to listen to the Doctors. Still it is a long road back, with many traps and detours. But I’m happy to say that you have been given a set of tools. What are they? Well here’s the truth you will need: You will need your training as a Soldier, your conviction that you are going to fight the beast and WIN! You must seek help from the Medics, your Padre , Your Sgt, or LT. Even the guy beside you, right or left. They have been there and you could be surprised to find out they might have a problem too. Use that opening under your nose – your mouth – to ask for help. That is step one to being the hero, that brave guy who goes forward no matter what he or she faces. To use the motto of the 3ed SSF OSONS! WE DARE.
So I’ll close now with my usual saying. Let’s talk shall we?
LEST WE FORGET
You can follow along with Rob’s self-help group updates on A VETERAN’S POINT OF VIEW at https://www.facebook.com/groups/114252128645011/?fref=ts
For your contributions and support to HOMECOMING VETS, I want to thank Kenneth H. Young, Pat Stogran, Sean Bruyea, Michael Blais, Rob Simpson, Dr. Dee Rajska, my counterpart stateside – Lily Casura of Combat Trauma, Eric Rebiere (former RCMP officer), Dan Slack, Dr. Remington Nevin on the mefloquine series, Nancy MacMillan, Dr. Jim Gordon, Sylvain Chartrand, Dr. Ashley M. Croft, David Pugliese, Jeff Rose-Martland, Dennis Menuge, Dave Desjardins, Leslie Raddatz, Michele Rosenthal, Mary K. Armstrong, Dr. Peter Strong, Elton Adams, Janice Holden, Jim and Debbie Lowther, Nancy Wilson, Christine Nielsen, Murray Brewster, Harold Leduc, Mark Bonokoski, Laura Wooten, Kelly McMillan, Chaplain Kathie, and Murray Scott. All of you have embraced great caring in your advocacy and support for each other.
During the past three years, I have presented 459 posts and received 1,224 comments about those posts. I hope they have provided some useful service in your journey to regain your health and self-sufficiency. Though I am retiring HOMECOMING VETS, I am leaving this website up for it has collected a wealth of information that remains at your disposal as needed.
Thank you once again for being the special people you are and for being in my life.
Love and hugs,
June 24, 2013
I leave you with this documentary film about what our veterans are advocating about: