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My man of war has changed

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Dear Life Coach,

I am a 22-year-old female of Vincentian parentage living in the US. I got married to a marine two years ago and he was deployed to Afghanistan three months after I became pregnant with our first child; a son. My husband returned two months ago when our son was four months old. He has changed, and I feel as if I do not understand him anymore: he walks around in a daze, he is not loving as before, he cries out in his sleep, he does not help around the house, and he is unemployed.{{more}} A few days ago I asked him to watch the baby while I went to the supermarket for a few minutes to get some groceries. It took me half an hour. When I got back, he had not changed the baby or fed him as I had requested. He just sat there on the couch where I left him, sitting and staring into space like a zombie. The baby was crying, but it was as if he did not even hear him. I am so worried. I thought that soldiers were supposed to be brave as well as strong. What kind of father is he going to be to our son? And what about me, his wife; I have made enough sacrifice with him being away, and now that he is back it is as if he is still there. I cannot continue like this. I feel so cheated.

Warrior’s Wife (WW)

Dear WW,

You feel as if you have made a sacrifice with your husband serving in the army and being deployed, but now that he is back things are no better because he has changed and you feel that your relationship with him is heading nowhere.

What’s Going On:

Here are some factors that contribute to your present situation: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), disruption of marital and family life, unemployment/disability benefits, childcare, family support, counselling, and veterans support group.

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to symptoms that are experienced after a traumatic event that threatened an individual’s sense of safety and wellbeing e.g. being at war, being held at gunpoint, witnessing someone’s death etc. Symptoms last more than one month and may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, feeling numb, emotional unresponsiveness, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Disruption of Marital and Family Life

PTSD is generally disruptive to marital and family life, since the symptoms of fear, irritability, helplessness, and distress are scary and the individual in large part does not understand why they occur or how to manage them. The person may also not be able to explain to family what he or she is experiencing and this makes it more difficult for everyone. To the family, their loved one has changed and may be viewed as unkind.

Unemployment/Disability Benefits

As a war veteran with PTSD, your husband is unable to work and may qualify for disability benefits; Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if he has worked for several years; and paid Social Security or Supplement Security Income (SSI) if he has only worked for a short time.

Childcare

As a six -month old infant, your son is in need of constant care and protection from a reliable and emotionally stable caregiver. Infants whose emotional needs are met learn to trust their environment and the world in which they live and as such will be emotionally healthy. Exposure to anger, irritability, anxiety, etc. will put your son in physical danger as well as cause him to become emotionally unstable and distressed when his needs are not met.

What to Do:

Family Support

Do not leave your husband alone to care for your son while he is in this fragile and volatile emotional state. At this time you must take full responsibility for the care of your son and make this your priority. Allow your husband to interact with his son only when you are present and able to supervise. Enlist capable and reliable adults (e.g. extended family members or friends or baby-sitters) to care for your infant in the event that you must take care of other business. As a wife, you should continue to support your husband and be patient with him as recovery from trauma does take time.

Counselling

Encourage your husband to seek counselling and assessment for PTSD either through the military or otherwise. A professional may be able to use a variety of techniques to help your husband recover from trauma due to war.

Social Security Administration Application

By obtaining a PTSD diagnosis, your husband will be able to apply to the Social Security Administration to determine if he qualifies for unemployment/disability benefits which, if available, will help to ease the financial burden you may be experiencing at present.

Veterans Support Group

There are many support groups for war veterans and their families. Both you and your husband may need the help and encouragement from individuals in a similar situation. They may be able to give you pointers that will help you through this difficult time.

WW, your husband may have a long road of recovery ahead of him, so hang in there and all the best.

Life Coach

DYNACII

Need help with relationship and other problems? Ask DYNACII’s Life Coach. Email your questions to [email protected] To Chat with the Life Coach, visit: http://www.dynacinternational.com. Dynamic Action Center International Inc. (DYNACII) a non-governmental organization committed to social and spiritual empowerment.

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