How can I help my husband who is having disturbing flashbacks as a result of active combat duty during his time in the military? Can you provide any helpful information concerning post-traumatic stress disorder? His condition has become much worse over the past several weeks, and our entire family is deeply worried about him. How can we best support him?
Sadly, your husband's situation is not unusual; in fact, it's becoming more prevalent with every passing day. This isn't surprising given the length of the struggle in which our military is currently engaged and the heavy burden our men and women in uniform have been bearing in theaters of conflict around the globe for the past several years. If it's any consolation to you, your family is not alone: post-traumatic stress disorder is a problem that medical doctors and mental healthcare professionals find themselves confronting with increasing frequency in today's war-torn world.
It's understandable that many returning veterans find it difficult to share their emotional pain. In many ways they've been to the brink of hell and back, and they don't want to upset their friends and families by describing their experiences. In addition to this, they assume that only those who've experienced combat can possibly understand and appreciate the significance of their internal struggles. So they keep their mouths shut and stuff their feelings deep down inside.
In many cases the intensity of the emotional suffering endured by a combat veteran far outweighs the pain of any physical injuries he may have sustained in the line of duty. That's not to mention that psychological pain often expresses itself by way of physical or psychosomatic symptoms. Among other things, your husband's flashbacks reflect the very real connection that exists between mind and body. For this reason, we would strongly suggest that he make an appointment to discuss his condition with a qualified physician at the earliest opportunity (if he hasn't already done so). It's possible that some of the issues he's dealing with can be effectively treated with medication.
We would also recommend that your entire family seek out the services of a licensed Christian counselor. It's important that you walk through this experience together. Call our Counseling department for a list of qualified therapist practicing in your area. They would also be happy to discuss your needs and concerns with you over the phone.
Handling Challenges of Returning Home From the Military Front: Gary and Barb Rosberg discuss the emotional challenges that frequently confront soldiers returning home and offer suggestions for easing this transition.
Point Man Ministries (Agency referrals provided by Focus on the Family are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily constitute an organizational endorsement.)
New Challenges, New Normal