Something needs to be done about family education in society and the military. Every immediate family member that is exposed to military personnel with traumatic experiences in their history is at risk for abuse. The government is taking no responsibility, the military branch is taking no responsibility and schools are taking no responsibility. This is not only a PTSD issue, this is a human issue. It is a lack of concern for another human being from the start of their military service. It begins when young men/women are recruited, it continues when they are serving their country and it continues still when they come home and try to integrate back into civilian life. Family law profits off this discord that military service cultivates in families. It is a chain reaction and I wish I knew about it before I got married.
Before you start a relationship know the history of the person you are marrying, because as I have experienced, it can come back to haunt you especially if abuse was not acknowledged and/or identified in the nuclear family that served in the military. Even a person who wasn’t in the military, but exposed to military parents can suffer in adulthood. Be fully aware of the indicators by asking a few questions:
1. Did siblings have any developmental issues growing up or unusual behavior?
2. Has the family faced any government authority before?
3. What is the history of the parents and their experiences?
Only recently have people become more acquainted with PTSD. I have heard that admitting any mental flaw or struggle in the military can set the person up for failure instead of success, this was especially true I assume in the 1970s after the Vietnam war which lasted from 1955 to 1975. See History.com for more on the Vietnam War timeline. Soldiers who served in Iraq from 2003 – 2011 will hopefully have a better chance now that counseling is becoming more accepted.
Counseling should be mandatory for every military person that has served during wartime or who has been exposed to someone who has served during wartime. When these courageous men and women come home they need support and their families need emotional support, not for a year for the life of the retired soldier. Every person is impacted by their overseas and wartime experiences whether it is acknowledged or not.
Signs to look out for if your spouse is triggered:
2. Sudden change in character
3. Sudden change in friends
4. Withdrawing and/or stonewalling
5. Increase in alcohol consumption or marijuana use
6. Strange behavior with children and/or defensiveness
7. Absent and/or not coming home
8. Mood swings
Note: I am not a psychologist or therapist. Signs are purely from experience and online research.
The person who divorced me did not want to own up to the trigger list. He preferred to keep everything buried and locked away (similar to his parents who are still married to this day). He divorced me, because I was not afraid to point out the abuse that was festering and for some reason he couldn’t make it stop. He would try on his own, but then fall right back into the same patterns. The abuse to this day remains cyclical. He divorced me to save face and protect himself from jail, so far his strategy has worked.
Confronting a jaded past is difficult for anyone, confronting the past when there is abuse is almost impossible unless the person who was abused is strong enough to face it and heal; however, if you have children you must stand up for what is right and stop the crazy cycle. I made the mistake of confronting him before recording the behavior on tape or video. Do not make my same mistake if there is abuse in your home get it on video. Turning a blind eye is not what is best for your family. Do what you can to educate yourself on abuse and raising a family with the right parenting style, an authoritative approach from both parents. Remember, marrying into a military family is a risk especially if someone served during wartime; please understand the possible consequences.