MTL Christmas - Page 39

my health Home for Christmas. Isn’t that where we all want to be at this very special time of year? Yet there are thousands of men and women serving in our military who would consider it Christmas any time of year if they could just come back home. My dad served in the Army in World War II, and though he’s been with Jesus now for more than 15 years, I still feel the sting of tears in my eyes and the swell of pride in my heart when I see pictures of him in his uniform. I will never forget the many stories he told me about those years, especially the warm welcome they received when they finally returned home. Sadly it wasn’t like that for my husband, who served in the Air Force from 1966-1970, including a year in Thailand and Vietnam. His homecoming wasn’t nearly as warm or memorable as my dad’s. So many of our military members during the Vietnam War era came home to boos and jeers and taunts of “baby killer.” Some of the vets from that time have never really “come home,” instead finding themselves struggling to maintain jobs or relationships—or even a roof over their head. My son’s experience was quite different from both my father’s and husband’s. He was in the Army on 9-11. Dressed in his uniform, he flew home for a visit a few weeks later. He said everywhere he went people came up to thank him for his service and to encourage him in facing the dangerous unknowns that lie ahead. Over the years, our support for our servicemen has run hot and cold, with our Vietnam vets receiving some of the worst treatment. But even today, when active military and veterans are applauded and appreciated, there are many who come home in body only—and often those bodies are damaged and changed forever. I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Kathi Macias PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) has been around for as long as there have been wars (or other extremely stressful situations). Until fairly recently, however, it wasn’t officially recognized as a distinct disorder. Instead, we referred to vets coping with PTSD symptoms as having “shell-shock” or “battle fatigue.” We assumed that, with time, the symptoms would disappear and the vets would move on with their lives. We have since learned that isn’t always the case. Technically, PTSD is described as “an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as major stress, sexual assault, warfare, or other threats on a person’s life. Symptoms include disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyper arousal, continuing for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event.”1 It is easy to see why military personnel returning from combat could fit into that description. Today, when many members of our military serve multiple deployments, often in war zones, it is highly likely that a great number of them will come home with emotional issues. Not all those issues are severe enough to qualify as PTSD, but these brave men and women may need resources beyond www.mtlmagazine.com / MTL Magazine 39