I wanted to share with you the following post I put up on our FB
page this morning in reaction to the following article in today's NY Times by Nicholas Kristoffhttp://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/opinion/sunday/war-wounds.html?pagewanted=all
For every soldier killed in war this year, about 25 veterans now take their own lives. More Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will die by their own hand than will be killed in combat. It does not have to be this way.
The high levels of traumatic brain injuries and PTSD we are seeing our veterans and their families struggling to cope with will be the lasting legacy of these conflicts. On a neurobiological level, TBI and PTSD has similar effects on the brains of war veterans that sexual abuse has on survivors. Many soldiers suffer through their injuries in silence and shame.
(It should also be noted that there is a far higher percentage of male survivors in the military than is currently acknowledged. Those survivors who are already struggling w/ the long term impacts of sexual abuse are likely a large proportion of the veteran population at risk for depression and suicide.)
The good news is that we know some things that work to help survivors heal. Whether the injury was inflicted on the battlefield or in a bedroom, all survivors of trauma and abuse have the ability to recover. But it requires a far reaching effort and a broader understanding of what is happening in the brains of injured soldiers, and how humans recover from these kinds of wounds. These are not simply injuries to the physical body, but deep wounds to the very self that must also be addressed with expert care.
Patient, supportive treatment based on lessons learned from the trauma-informed care model and successful treatment of abuse survivors who have overcome decades of silent suffering can help inform our efforts. We can come together to provide hope and support for the healing efforts of returning veterans, these awful statistics can be changed. It won't be easy, and it's not a panacea, but we owe it to the brave young men and women who have sacrificed themselves on behalf on their country to do all we can to help them.