So for this day, the Mistress asks that you take the time to do something yourself to give part in creating awareness. Since 2007, I have been simply amazed at how far we have come as far as information is concerned for military families and outreach programs available. Programs or non-profit organizations that weren't even a twinkle in someone's mind are now full blown operating ones and that is thanks to those who weren't afraid to stand up and speak about it. It still blows my mind to see how many don't mind speaking up about their PTSD or their families these days, in such places as Facebook or twitter. Many families and combat veterans themselves have started blogging, which is in fact helping spread the word all over the world.
In recognition for our second annual National PTSD Awareness Day, the Mistress decided to take a few minutes and give my Readers some ideas that YOU can do to help pitch in with the awareness of such issues.
1. If you aren't a blogger, become one: While there are many ideas given to us as veterans and family members coping with or living with PTSD, some things they offer as stress release techniques are not really accessible or feasible in our lives. I don't know about many of you, but getting a massage at the drop of a hat would be a luxury item in my lifetime! Then I have to worry about several things; leaving my husband alone or is it something he can and will participate in? Or, is it something we can afford and where the hell do I find the time to do such things! Anyone can write, and is something that can be done anywhere, anytime, and is a release from some of the stress. This ol' gal never would have thought in a million years that my writing it out, would have taken me so far! Now I know, I know...many say "well I don't want the whole world to know all about my problems! It's on the internet and everyone will know!". My answer is simply this: I wasn't born with the name "Uncle Sam's Mistress" you know. I write in a no named area, I leave names and cities out, and I do not write some things that I think could possibly harm my family. I was quite surprised to hear in a writer's guild several women discussing my website while waiting in line for lunch. They never knew that it was me standing right behind them and I like that! Very few and only ones that I feel comfortable with, know who I really am. Blogger.com and Wordpress are relatively easy to do and trust me, this woman is most definitely technologically challenged. You could be SGT PTSD or Mrs. Sally Jo Blankenship; whoever you choose to be. It's a good way to document things going on as well especially when you need to go back and reference something! Also, a good way to think about blogging is this: If our voices aren't heard, the harder it will be to get help. I know many fuss because some programs and help comes a little too late for us, but I don't want another person to go through what I have...so I am happy even if it means I can't use it.
2. Volunteer your talents and your time: So you are probably arguing with me right now on the time issue aren't you? Let's say your day is like mine. You might have 20 minutes where you want to kill someone or run into the bathroom and cry, just to get it off your chest. Take that 20 minutes and see what you can do with it. Many organizations, websites are looking for stories just like ours. Share it! You can click on such sites like the USA Cares banner above or click here and share your story. The more we share, the more others can eventually try to pitch in and help our challenges we face. Brannan, from Familyofavet.com, could use some good help with just smaller tasks such as taking brochures/fliers to the VA. This can be done and hey, more than likely this month, you will be there at one point or another. Check out her Grassroots tab for ideas on how you can help! There is also an article she posted on National PTSD Awareness Day as well on ideas on how you can help.
3. Pass on and share such links on your FB, twitter or email accounts. Some good ones are Familyofavet.com, Operation Homefront's Wounded Warrior Wives, Wounded Warrior Project. Instead of getting that second frappachino at Starbuck's or buying an overly pricey lunch, drop a few dollars in the "donate" box for these guys. If we all donated one dollar, imagine what that could do for some of these organizations!
4. Please pass on a story about this young veteran who is a purple heart recipient and who has been missing since last year. His family is desperate to locate him as any family would be! His story can be found here along with some photos. Passing on through such sites as Twitter and FB can reach a ton of people! Familyofavet.com has a down-loadable flier with story and description of this veteran and it would take you just a few minutes to pass on. Your taking a minute to share this, might be another minute closer to finding this veteran.
5. For those who are NOT living with PTSD, take the time out to pitch in a helping hand. I don't know about many of the families who are reading, but some of our veterans have physical injuries that limit items such as mowing the yard or trimming the bushes. Even with mental injuries such as TBI and PTSD, these items can be daunting for a spouse trying to be superman and doing it all on her own. Give a call, and just see if there is something you can do for them. The best gift a dear friend of mine has ever given me are these kind of phone calls "Hey, I was wondering if I can steal the kids away for a little while to go to a movie or bowling". While that might not seem a lot to some folks, I can guarantee you that the families who are juggling PTSD and any other issues, this is a gift that no price tag can be placed upon. Offer to run to the store, clean up or perhaps give the spouse a break for a few hours so she may have time to run by and get that double scooped icecream cone with her groceries. Those little breaks are few and far between. Trust me, we won't ask for this but if you offer, our little hearts are going to go pitter-pat as you see nothing but elbows and ass running for the front door! Now for those that can't afford to offer much, offer support and a lending ear without judgment. The best thing ever given is just an opportunity of releasing that pressure cooker going off in the Veteran's or spouse's head!
Simple simple things. Nothing overly drastic, nothing overly time consuming, but enough to make an impact. Just by standing up and saying "We are the family of PTSD" or any other issues creates that first awareness. Many try to hide it and that's not going to help us in the long run. It's not going to help you at all by hiding it. Now I am not saying rent a billboard, stand out on the corner with written signs, but just standing in front of a mirror and saying to yourself "yep, our family represents the very many and I am not ashamed" will be creating awareness for yourself and that my friends....is always the first step in fighting back.
I am a spouse of Military Combat PTSD. This is my family and we are not ashamed,