If you can't fix it... Call in someone who can.

If you can't fix it... Call in someone who can.

Author: Dr. Frank P. Gonzales is a clinical psychologist for the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2).

We've all heard the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". But what about the flip side of that saying, "If it's broke, fix it"? We know things break, for example: cars, water heaters, and even computers. In fact, we pretty much expect that eventually most everything will need to be repaired. It's a fact of life.

We humans are no different. We accept that injuries and illness will occur... and when they do we take steps to elimiate the effects.  We do this by seeking out professional help and allowing our bodies to rest in order to recuperate so we may continue to function at our best.

When it comes to our mental and emotional well-being the same care should be sought after. While deployed you may have been exposed to combat experiences that made an impact on you mentally or emotionally.  These impacts are known as "psychological injuries" and are normal following a traumatic circumstance - just as physical injuries are following a bodily trauma. However, for many of us, it's easier to admit that we have a broken leg than it is to acknowledge that we have a psychological injury.

During a deployment to a combat zone you may have performed under extreme circumstances while keeping your composure.  This is the emotional "blunt force" that can lead to a psychological injury. Keep in mind that this psychologocial injury is just as real as a broken leg but it can be more debilitating than a physical injury.

I want to emphasize how important it is to seek out help if you are experiencing any kind of psychological injury.  Think of it as having a broken leg... you are being prevented from performing at your best.  Seeking help now will allow you to get back to your optimum functioning self, sooner rather than later.  As a service member, why not take advantage of the counseling and behavioral health resources that are offered through the Veterans Administration?  If you are not ready to seek out help, check out the self-help resources we offer here on AfterDeployment, After all you deserve it.

Comments

Anonymous

I work at the VA hospital in Spokane WA.  I have introduced this material on our behavior unit as a source of patient education.  We are developing the workshop material to be used as a group presentation. Our inpatient presentation is to encourage participation in the outpatient program upon discharge and or continued use of this website. 

Anonymous

my husband recently returned home from Iraq and is in the wounded warrior program due to a back injury. during that time he used the painkillers Dr's prescribed and has become hopelessly addicted and unable to quit them. it's been a month of "hell" with him withdrawing on his own, and none of the providers even care enough to finally get him treatment without adding more drugs to his already toxic brew. Don't get me wrong, I am both appreciative and grateful for the Dr's and the wonderful care provided to our returning warriors. However, the support personnel  were often overworked and not able to take on their patient load, letting many soldiers fall through the cracks. Like my husband, who is great at never letting anyone know that he is suffering because he doesn't want to appear needy or ruin his military record.

Last month he wanted to go off the Opiates. Now today after 6 weeks of no sleep, no eating and him being at the absolute end of himself. Today he finally admitted to himself to get help. His greatest fear? To ruin his perfect Army record and status while on deployment, that if he asked for rehab or treatment it would erase all the good he's accomplished over the past 5 years in his career. I have watched a once proud warrior with the Army Commendation Medal dissolve into depression and self destruction through what Dr.'s felt were helping his pain....

Guess what? Physical pain is not always treated with just meds. They totally forgot the man who needed help readjusting to normal life. MEN need to have work to make them feel like they have purpose.

While the Wounded Warrior program is far better for our returning Vets than say Viet Nam era, there is ONE thing they are neglecting to address: * Idle hands are the playground of the devil. ( I speak not in religious terms, although I believe in God.) When men who are actively working as a team in a job, in war or peace and suddenly thrust into nothingness, is it any wonder depression sets in? He was at Ft. Bliss and all that was expected of them was to check in the morning and at night. He found himself riddled with guilt for having left his unit before his time, and now in a place where they considered everyone disabled. Sure there are soldiers returning with tremendous disabilities and challenges, but for those who still are able, nothing is given to replace their self-respect and give them as sense of worth. There were no support groups offered where vets could talk things out with each other, only isolation, television and drugs to keep them numb. 

It seems to me that even occupational therapies, classes where they work with their hands, learn new skills such as woodworking, arts and crafts or even reading groups, prayer/Bible studies would help these returning Vet find their way back to normalcy. Instead they are drugged. Then left to fend for themselves. Even if they think they need help the stigma against getting help mentally, prohibits many of our men to shrink back in fear of being stripped of duty. I don't blame the military Dr's. Perhaps it is all of our responsibility to ensure the proper health of our military community.

Certainly more open communication for patients with their Drs, nurses and CADRE support workers would alleviate many challenges. It's all everyone receiving the support needed. I for one would welcome the change to work with returning Vets using my own skills as Artist & Calligraphy. I have seen this medium heal many hurt and wounded people through a creative expression. I wouldn't even know where to start to give this gift. 

Thank you for giving me a place to write these thoughts out. I too hurt for my husband and not only him but for our military members and families. After all, we are one family and when we share each others burdens the load is never too hard to carry.

*Nothing good comes from boredom.

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