Military Caregivers: Understanding the invisible wounds of war

With the war in Afghanistan and Iraq coming to a close, servicemen and women are returning home to their long awaited family and friends. While their homecoming is bitter sweet, the challenges of reintegration from combat to civilian life can be stressful on these service members and their families.

During deployments service members experience long periods of extreme stress, endure intense battlefield activity that poses personal harm and involves the taking of life, experience their own injuries, and witness the injuries and deaths of others.

The effects of war may have an impact on the mental and emotional well-being of your returning service member. Many survivors of a traumatic event return to normal with time, whereas others take longer to heal–these individuals may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is an anxiety disorder or condition that can be characterized as a silent, invisible injury common in military personnel who have been exposed to traumatic events while performing their military responsibilities.

If your loved one recently returned home from war, look for signs and symptoms that he or she may be exhibiting PTSD.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Unwanted thoughts or memories
  • Panic attacks
  • Angry or irritable
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Scared
  • Confused

Living with a service member who suffers from PTSD can be difficult, learn how you can better understand this invisible wound and strategies for helping and coping with the situation by going to Caring for Those with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Also, watch Veterans’ Voices on PTSD and hear stories from veterans who have experienced PTSD. These veterans share their emotions, actions, and symptoms caused by PTSD and what they did to overcome the invisible wounds of war.

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