Ok...I will be the first to step up to the plate and say "I watch Army Wives on Lifetime Television". As cheesy as that sounds, I really have been a fan of this show since it started out three years ago. Now I know there are some major differences between this show and real life, but appreciate the story lines and characters. I feel, as most Army Wives, that I can relate to some of what the show portrays. In my world of all manly macho stuff, my three boys and husband make sure that I get my fill of masculinity. I need some girl time for me, and my rendezvous on Sundays with the Army Wives show fills that need. I live vicariously through their friendships and long for such closeness as I have no one. Because I watch the show, of course my husband must sit through my "ACU Soap" while I get my girly fix although he will not admit that to anyone. However, a few shows back, one caught our attention and we sat down to watch closely.
One of the shows involved SPC Jeremey Sherwood, son of Colonel Frank Sherwood and wife Denise. SPC Sherwood involved in combat in Iraq, lost his best friend. Upon his return to the states, the guilt over losing his best friend and the horror he witnessed over there, transformed into PTSD. Now my husband who normally sits and fusses about the show, really paid attention as we watched Jeremy Sherwood drink heavily, have anger problems, suffered from nightmares and so on. I thought to myself "Finally!", someone is smart enough to bring this very serious subject up in a popular show for military spouses. Kudos to the writers for bringing this subject to light!
THEN....next week he drinks heavily, suffers through all sorts of emotions, and tries to commit suicide. The MPs come, take him to the hospital where he is kept in the mental health ward for observation. A few spots here and there on camera showing his contempt for the help he is getting, refusal of the medication the doctors prescribe him and then just sitting. Couple of days later, Jeremy finally has a breakdown while talking with the psychiatrist, Roland Burton and a day or so later...magically gets released to go back to serve. Now I know that they can't portray the real life story....I also know that yes, this is indeed a somewhat military type soap opera....but they had a perfect opportunity to educate and they failed.
They made it look like this SPC who suffered so terribly from PTSD was magically cured with an observation stay at the hospital on post. Ever since then, he hasn't had any problems nor did they mention mediciations or follow up treatments...nothing. Colonel Joan Burton also had issues with PTSD earlier in the shows and went to a two week program for treatment...not really had any problems since then either. It frustrates me and irritates me that my favorite show let me down. Not only that, but felt this making light of PTSD as simple as just a band-aid covering, really was a slap in the face of so many spouses searching for help. It let us down. I also felt for those spouses who watch and have no knowledge of PTSD, will look at this and think this is a simple fix.
I did watch last nights show in which TBI played a part in Colonel Burton's life. Now I can say that the symptoms I picked up on right away from the week before, and that it was portrayed a lot better than PTSD issues. I guess I am glad that they made sure that comments were made like "TBI is a serious condition and should be treated as so" throughout the one hour program. I just didn't understand why PTSD played such a minor role in this very much watched show when PTSD and TBI are such huge ongoing issues right now with our military members....am I just being slightly irrational or maybe too much time on my hands? What are your thoughts about it?
Let Down by a Soap,
Uncle Sam's Mistress