Disturbing Trend Relative to Soldiers With PTSD
I heard about a disturbing trend today on the radio on my way to work. Soldiers with PTSD being harassed or ostracized by other Soldiers. How can this be?! We have been told, after all, that we are to be “our brother’s keeper.” Relating to this, I offer the following:
“He [the angel] said, ‘It will no longer be said that your name is Yaakov, but rather Israel, for you have contested with both the Divine and with man, and have prevailed.'” [Genesis 32:29]
In each of our lives, there will come a time, or perhaps there has already been a time, or two, where we have had to “struggle with an Angel.” The Angel is representative of any deep-rooted spiritual conflict that we wage with Hashem. It may be that we are conflicted over, for instance:
– Why bad things happen to good people
– Why good things happen to bad people
– Why Hashem does not actively intervene (or so it seems) during events where people are vigorously exercising their evil nature (mass murderers, child abuse, etc.)
– Why death comes to some (it appears to us) too soon
– Why some are stricken with life altering disease, injury or destruction
This struggle may sometimes be so intense within us that it translates to our physicality in such ways to include acts of violence against others, self abuse, or even leading to thoughts of, or actual, suicide.
Through regular study of Torah and through a better (never complete) understanding of the nature of Hashem, we are better equipped to emerge from our spiritual struggles. It is likely that we will not always emerge unscathed, but rather that we may experience some level of emotional scarring here and there: our own “limp.”
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the “limp” that many of us as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines carry as a result of select experiences. But, with large doses of “tincture of time,” Torah study and with the help and support of our Rabbi’s and behavioral specialists, we can endure, overcome and emerge. We will definitely be “changed” as from Jacob (defined: the heel grabber) to Israel (defined: to struggle with G-d): stronger and better equipped to face the uncertainties that the future holds for us. Please do not hesitate to ‘self refer’ to your local Behavior Health Specialists if you believe you
are suffering from PTSD: losing sleep, recurrent disturbing thoughts or dreams, inability to concentrate.
May your “limps” always be small and your struggles few. We love and support you always. From your friends here at “Jews In Green” and www.thejewishsoldier.com
As a Mental Health Specialist I can attest to the fact that people are becoming more familiar with PTSD and less Likely to not report. In fact, in general people are becoming less likely to “suffer in silence” then in the past, in regards to all mental health issues. Yes we still have those that are malingering, but for the most part they are easily weeded out and those that are in genuine need recieve the help they need. As a “retired” Infantryman I can not attest to the effects of fellow soldiers. The Infantry has a different standard and you really have to be there to understand it. But I have seen that my brothers in blue are very supportive to the soldiers that I have seen. They realize now that Mental Health issues are not a sign of weakness, and that help is available. Infantry has a different mentality and I feel that as an infantry man I am able to give them the care they deserve. I once had an infantry man tell me “and water came from my eyes, I don’t know why,” Knowing the infantry mentality told me not to ask this soldier if he cried but to elude to the emotional pain he was experiencing. With infantry there is a pride that needs to be maintained, and perpetuated, and understanding in general most be tenamount.
Psychiatric prevalence studies from the Iraq theater are only now beginning to reveal the extent of the problem. A landmark study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that approximately 16% of those returning from Iraq suffered from mental health problems, the most prominent among them being PTSD.
I hope that some of the Rabbi’s and behaviorial specialists are professionally trained in EMDR, a very efficacious trauma therapy.
With all due respect to our religious leaders and the teachings of the Torah; without some very serious psychiatric treatment , many individuals are likely to experience prolonged suffering.