The Life of a Service Family.
In the Guardian yesterday an article by Sam Winston (name changed) where she quite honestly writes about what it is like to be an Army wife with your nearest and dearest fighting for Queen and country in Afghanistan (or anywhere for that matter).
She writes with a refreshing honesty about saying goodbye to her husband and father of their children and the loss of a dear friend and colleague to the family. So much feeling has gone into that article and I applaud her for being brave enough to write it. It’s title “No Medals for Those Who Stay at Home” powerfully calls our attention to the other people in this equation. The FAMILY! Although I do have to say that most service families I know wouldn’t ask for one. Just like their spouses doing their job in far away places, they ask no thanks for what they do or put up with.
I applaud the good work that unit welfare offices do for the families back home in difficult times. They tend to be the glue that holds the unit together back home and very much becomes the centre of many families lives while the unit is deployed. But it’s when the unit returns from operations that support seems to wane into nothingness. Especially for those that are unfortunate enough to be suffering from Psychological Trauma. For these families, their lives can turn into a living hell, having to watch their spouse/father/mother come to terms with what they’ve seen and/or done and struggling to readjust to “normal” daily life. All of which can lead to “Vicarious Trauma”. Just as serious an issue as PTSD itself in my opinion.
I think that one of the main reasons that this support is difficult to come by is the fact that PTSD can take years to manifest after the seeds that have created it were planted. Of course, the family may have moved on or even left the services by the time it rears it’s ugly head. In the case of the latter they are firmly OFF the MOD’s radar and on the NHS’s. Lamentably, understanding of these issues is still far from perfect within the NHS with Psychological Trauma symptoms often being mis-diagnosed.
Whilst the family is still serving though, the help is there for these issues, yet horrifyingly seldom includes the family. Where diagnosed, the primary sufferer is whisked off to receive treatment, yet 99% of the time the family is left behind AGAIN! It’s an importnat issue and one I feel needs addressing which is why I became associated with Garrison Girls. A charity whose vision it is to not only take a broader approach to the treatment of Psychological Trauma but also to treat the whole family as a unit. Something which is sadly lacking as things stand.