As you may know, my book, Yesterday's Tomorrow, touches on the realities of battle and how one copes with the things they have seen and done in that war zone once they're home. Coming home was often a torturous experience and men and women didn't understand what they were experiencing.
Today we call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I'm thrilled to have author Ronie Kendig as a guest on the blog today! Ronie's popular Discarded Heroes series touch on the issue of PTSD and more, and as we'll discover, Ronie is passionate about supporting the military. Ronie has graciously agreed to giveaway a copy of her latest release, Wolfsbane, so leave a comment for Ronie to be counted in the draw.
My military hunk walked into the bookstore I worked at, wearing BDUs, a Hawaiian tan like nobody’s business, and blue eyes that turned knees to putty. To say I was smitten is a heinous understatement. When he explained he was there looking for my coworker (who—thank goodness—was on lunch break), I stifled my disappointed. Offered to let him leave a message for her, so he did. He left a message and his phone number.
And I memorized it.
Then married the hunk a year later.
My love for our military heroes started at a very young age. I was three when my father trooped off to Vietnam, leaving my mother and brother to fend for ourselves. Years later, I would witness close friends kissing their soldiers goodbye as they head off to Operation Desert Shield/Storm. I watched them return home, very different men. They left their wives, families, irrevocably changed by war.
One way I dealt with life even from childhood was to create stories, whether with Barbies (ahem) or with a word processor. And I wrote what I knew—military life. Soldiers. Heroes.
Until one day at church, a young woman got up to ask for prayer during Sunday School. She wanted prayer for her husband—a Navy SEAL. Riddled with anger and a warrior mentality (which, I believe is a gift). His anger and unwillingness to get help destroyed their marriage. Two small children, their hero father gone, would have to forge a new life without him.
My heart broke. And with it that pedestal I’d so dutifully placed military heroes on. In that hour, I realized I could never again pen a story about our military heroes without showing the toll that life takes on them, their families, and—as a military brat, I can relate—their children.
A statistic recently reported that 92.5% of soldiers today experience some traumatic, combat situation—an attack, getting shot , etc. The statistics for those with post-traumatic stress disorder varies, and is invariably inaccurate. The inaccuracy comes from the fact that most of troops will not seek help because, in some situations, the PTSD diagnosis can be career-ending. Or they fear being perceived as weak—which is completely false. They are human. They are heroes.
The purpose of the Discarded Heroes remains the same as when the first book launched in July 2010—to open dialogue. Our heroes are returning home and will need to reintegrate, find a new normal. They needs us. But they probably won’t ask for help, and/or they may not even realize what they need. So, we can step up to the plate, do a little research about PTSD, and be prepared to listen—and pray. Pray for the troops. Pray for their healing, mentally and physically (for some).
From the National Center for PTSD:
There are four types of PTSD symptoms:
1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms):
Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place. You may have nightmares. You even may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger -- a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include:
o Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat Veteran.
o Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident.
o Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a woman who was raped.
2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event:
You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event. For example:
o A person who was in an earthquake may avoid watching television shows or movies in which there are earthquakes.
o A person who was robbed at gunpoint while ordering at a hamburger drive-in may avoid fast-food restaurants.
o Some people may keep very busy or avoid seeking help. This keeps them from having to think or talk about the event.
3. Feeling numb:
You may find it hard to express your feelings. This is another way to avoid memories.
o You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people and may stay away from relationships.
o You may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy.
o You may not be able to remember parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal):
You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. This is known as hyperarousal. It can cause you to:
o Suddenly become angry or irritable
o Have a hard time sleeping.
o Have trouble concentrating.
o Fear for your safety and always feel on guard.
o Be very startled when something surprises you.
Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat and married a veteran. Together, she and her husband have four children, a Golden Retriever, and a Maltese Menace. She has a degree in psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand, is exemplified through her novels Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and the military thriller series, The Discarded Heroes, which includes Nightshade (Retailer’s Choice Award Finalist), Digitalis, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn (January 2012). Ronie can be found at www.roniekendig.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.