PTSD: Affects Vets’ Spouses Too

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), about 25 percent of vets returning from the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are suffering from PTSD. That’s about 500,000 veterans. If we include family members, that number more than doubles.  Not surprisingly, returning veterans—particularly those with PTSD—have a higher divorce rate than non-veterans. And [...]

PTSD Affects Vets’ Families Too

ptsd affects vets' families too

Dear Mr. Dad: A few months ago, my husband got back from his 3rd Army deployment—two in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. He’s been diagnosed with PTSD and is getting treatment. But I’m worried that his condition is somehow rubbing off on the rest of the family. Our children are having problems in school, I’m finding myself on edge and agitated all the time, and my temper seems to be getting shorter by the minute. I used to think that if we survived three deployments we could survive anything. But now I’m not so sure. What can I do?

A: First, I want to thank you, your husband, and your kids for your service. What you’re writing about is, sadly, getting more and more common. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), about 25 percent of vets returning from the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are suffering from PTSD. That’s about 500,000 veterans. If we include family members, that number more than doubles.

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Science of Homework Problems + Helping Kids with Homework + Employment Programs for Military Spouses and Veterans

[amazon asin=061557680X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Kenneth Goldberg, author of The Homework Trap.
Topic: How to save the sanity of parents, students, and teachers.
Issues: The science behind homework difficulties; what homework looks like from the student’s perspective; understanding the reasons behind children’s homework problems; why the suggestions and solutions you’ve been offering may be doing more harm than good.


[amazon asin=098399000X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Neil McNerney, author of Home Work.
Topic: How to help your child without freaking out.
Issues: Recognizing your personal strengths (and weaknesses) and using harnessing them; identifying the individual ways your child deals with homework and other stressors; learning to use three powerful leadership techniques to help your child achieve success.


Guest 3: CAPT Brad Cooper, Executive Director of Joining Forces.
Topic: Employment programs for military spouses and veterans.
Issues: Ensuring the professional licenses will be accepted nationwide; job training for returning veterans; ensuring that high school AP coursework will be accepted even if the student transfers mid-year; and much more.

The heavy, heavy price paid by returning veterans: almost half make disability claims

“America’s newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.

“A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.”

This is an excerpt from an article by AP Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. Read the rest of this important story here. 

Veterans can’t get meeting with the VA? Sadly, not much of a surprise

A group from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) spent some time in DC and had tons of meetings with various officials. But the one organization that shut them out was the Veteran’s Administration, the people who should be paying the most attention to issues vets–especially vets of Iraq and Afghanistan. And it wasn’t just that the VA was busy that week. Nope. The IAVA has been trying to get in the door for nearly three years!

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The Army? You Want to Join the Army?

Dear Mr. Dad: My 18-year old son wants to join the Army, but neither my wife nor I want him to enlist. How do we communicate that without sounding like we want to control his life? Is it wrong to tell him we think he’s making a big mistake?

A: First, my congratulations to your son: wanting to join the military shows courage, responsibility, and a desire to do good and protect others (although, as someone who enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17, I’d have to question his choice of the Army). Second, understand that at 18, your son is a legal adult. If he’d have wanted to, he could have signed on the dotted line, packed his bags, and asked you for a ride to the airport. The fact that he raised the issue at all is huge. It means he’s really thinking things through and that he respects your opinion.

Before you say anything to your son one way or the other, consider these two things: 1) Why he wants to join in the first place, and 2) Why you’re against it.

People join the military for a variety of reasons, including the enlistment and reenlistment bonuses (which can be in the 10s of thousands), getting a job, getting an education, having a chance to travel the world, and the amazing benefits available to veterans. You can familiarize yourself with some of these benefits at military.com/benefits.

The best way to find out your son’s motivations is to ask. So sit down with him and talk about the issues. And by “talk,” I really mean “listen.” Don’t hog the conversation and don’t try to force your viewpoint on him. If you come across as judgmental, you’ll be giving him yet another reason to enlist: to get away from his controlling parents.

Since your son hasn’t made his final decision, I suggest that you, your wife, and your son go visit a local recruiter. They’re generally very open to including parents in the process. At the very least, this will show your son that you respect his decisions and that you’re concerned that he make the best choices. If he hasn’t already seen a recruiter, this meeting will give all of you a chance to find out what positions (called MOS—military occupation specialty) your son is qualified for. Not everyone has to be a grunt (an infantryman). Speaking with a recruiter can also help your son clarify his goals and give you some insight into what’s driving his desires.

Now, to your issues. As parents, we all want to protect our children from danger, and there aren’t many jobs in the world where your son could be more in harm’s way than the service, particularly these days. In addition, you may have some strong issues with the military. But your natural instinct to protect your son (or to express your political views) isn’t a good enough reason to try to change his mind.. Again, he’s an adult and harsh criticism could very well drive him even further away than boot camp.

If at all possible, find some support for yourself. Talk with family members or friends whose children have served. Try to get both sides of the story—some parents who were unhappy about the decision and some who supported their child’s choice.

But at the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is support your son. Sure, tell him you’re afraid for his safety—he is too. But also tell him how proud you are.

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