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Memorial Day Tribute to Anthony

We’ve witnessed our warriors and soldiers in action. How they are trained to not show any feelings when confrontation is in front of us and how to take down a threat effectively. Well, it was a blessing of a day. I had an injury that I thought was healed but found a knee brace was needed before working out at my local gym.

The weather was erratic with rain clouds, darkness and then sprinkles of sunshine and then clouds. It was a day you take in reflection or contemplation. These days invite contemplation and need to resolve our lives with this kind of weather. The instability calls out our emotions and if anything needs release or addressed. 

I was working out and there was a man next to me on a machine. He mentioned how at our age we have to be vigilant about keeping our health and bodies in shape. I agreed. Then he asked why the knee brace? I told him I was injured by an unstable woman who exclaimed she was frightened and my leg locked up and then she grabbed my hair and then my other foot bent at my toes backward. I was talking about the movement of wrestling and how it wasn’t a street fight. He told me his story of being a policeman and his relatives dreading his work in that. Later he became a subway train driver and had so much stress and responsibility keeping all the people on the train safe. I told him I was in martial arts in my mid 40s and with my kids and they wanted me to do fighting and I refused because at my age; your bones take longer to heal. Anyway, I mentioned my Dad and brothers in the military doing special missions and PTSD became the subject. He then told me his name and said his son fought in Afghanistan and has shut down and recently married a woman who talks for him and he is not the talkative son he used to be.

I told him about veterans…I had a mother and sister-in-law who did that. People from the outside would think they were in charge but it was the husband who suffered PTSD either from military or homelife and this was the way they preferred not to engage to stir up uncomfortable emotions and reactions in a violent way. They used their wives as coping mechanisms and a crutch to speak to families who noticed the changes in their loved one/son. I told him my father did this with my Mom to avoid an irate confrontation or scene as a threat even in a simple civilian encounter. They were still in their minds where the PTSD occurred. They needed them to talk for them. People can judge and say the woman wears the pants but it isn’t that at all it is seen to the woman as maintaining the peace in the family and home. Sometimes, they will get a wife who has been emotional about something and the emotions are too much for the veteran to take and do whatever it takes to resolve and not think but resolve and sometimes the decisions will not make sense but maintain the peace in the soldier’s mind with their wife. They may even be in the middle of a conflict with the kids or other relatives and with the inability to process the emotions and think things out calmly a quick resolve is made to finish the emotional experience.

When a soldier or veteran with PTSD seems far off in another space when they visit or shut off. You miss the engagement of the old one before the PTSD sets in. It is natural to miss the old person in your life but they are different and have been affected and changed and the need to be patient is needed to be simple and basic and not put time deadlines or shoulds or shame or yell them in to their old selves doesn’t help and will make them retract from communications and engaging with the family or friends. What I suggest, because of my experience with veterans, is to remain calm, when the son lets his wife speak the whole time; just smile and greet her so she is settled and calm and your son is calm. Then turn to your son and say “Son, I am so happy to see you and glad you are here.” Then back away and look at the spouse and continue with the pattern. Keep saying this and don’t ask questions to force engagement. Smile and be grounded and every time you meet; do this. The veteran is having a hard time adjusting in civilian engagement and so you create no demands and a safe and consistent way of speaking and with brevity (Briefness) and this will happen over and over again. In my experience; one day they speak to you and you don’t say anything but listen to their story and with empathy. They will talk long and sometimes they will regret sharing or down talk themselves as being weak for telling you and being emotional. All you do is listen then say there is nothing wrong with you sharing your story. I am so glad and I am here to listen. Leave that alone and if the next time they may be too ashamed to do that again and retract to the same pattern of coping. You simply do the same greeting with consistency and brevity and don’t say this is the 20th time I’ve told you this…or why don’t you do this or that and that will be seen as forcing them to engage when not ready. And you will see this roller coaster pattern but they need again safety, consistency and brevity no matter what. You are showing them no matter what they share or not; you love them and you are there and you see them in all that they are.

If you lose patience; take a breath and do it again and things will open up …maybe the warrior or veteran will ask for help and want the next step to healing. This is important to have veteran resources to assist. Sometimes, other alternative ways are seen non threatening like art, music, food and inner childlike activities bring them in a comfort zone and make it okay just to be human again. We all need this and perhaps a special therapist to assist in this matter. With hope in our hearts and prayers we have military to rebuild communities and society instead of destroy will heal all of us…building hospitals, schools, housing, etc. of our military then we will be seen that compassion in action from the soldier is the ideal spectrum to inner peace and a peaceful society and world together. Wishing and praying helps anyone today and much gratitude. Once again what do I know? I am only a person who has PTSD soldiers as friends and in the family and wish for all the peace, love, healing and joy in their lives. Thank you for your service and thank you for being here.


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