Good day and Happy Memorial Day weekend to those who have one. What I mean is, often we take for granted that people have family and friends, mental health, physical health, food, a car, a park, a blanket, a flag, or even a country for which to be thankful.
While most Americans no doubt are grateful for our veterans’ courage, sacrifice, and loyalty, we tend to not be grateful enough to pay much attention to exactly what that sacrifice was. Some of our surviving Veterans lost their lives, and continue to miss out because our society does not accept or appreciate the price of mental health.
Some veterans come home with what used to be called, “combat fatigue.” Now it is known as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. This is one of the causes of continued suffering for some of our veterans.
PTSD as I have experienced it (non-veteran) could stand for Panic Tension Secret and Disoriented. I’m describing only one person’s experience. All of the above and more can vary in power over functionality and response for each individual. The phrase, “We are only as sick as our secrets” is a simplistic yet realistic view of PTSD and other disorders because it is in asking for and receiving help that we recover.
What if society does not allow those discussions in polite company? If at the bar or in the church, at home or work, on the golf course or in art class, veterans and others are shut-down from talking about PTSD, the secret remains buried. Somewhere in our heads must be soil, because secrets can take root and grow, eventually overtaking better parts of our thinking.
Recently a man sued a public business for taking offense at his service dog. He has PTSD and no one there respected that fact. “Just get over it,” I can imagine them saying. “Leave your dog outside.”
But his dog is what keeps him able to go out independently into public businesses in the first place. He is better for having a trained working dog who senses his master’s panic rising and knows how to ground him and bring him back. If only we as citizens were as smart as that dog!
Instead we tend to shake our heads and say, “That’s too bad” while we wave our flags and applaud our veterans. If we are truly grateful, the internet makes it easy for us to read up on PTSD on reputable sites. Our new knowledge will grow our insight. We can talk about it, and expand society’s acceptance. Next Memorial Day and in many days before it, we can better understand PTSD and be truly grateful for the ongoing sacrifice many of our veterans pay.