By LTC Eric Wolf, Former Chief, Past Conflict Repatriations Branch, Casualty & Mortuary Affairs Operations Center
Editor’s Note: This is the third post in a three-part blog series on LTC Eric Wolf’s thoughts on the 2010 National Defense Forum on Wounded Warriors. You can also read his previous posts entitled Introductory Thoughts on an Inspiring Discussion and Leaders’ Thoughts on Improving Transition. The expressed comments and views of guest bloggers do not reflect the views of WTC or the United States Army.
Several panel members, including Soldiers, leaders, and doctors all agreed that now is the time to remove the word disorder from the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
While a medical diagnosis may require this word, those suffering from this level of stress don’t need to be labeled as “out of order.”
There is a need throughout the Army, and with all services, to evolve our cultures so that Soldiers understand and believe that being “not okay” is okay.
From basic training to daily Soldiering and to the time when a Soldier is no longer at his or her original “normal,” we must, as a community, instill this new understanding that whenever your reality changes, it is not only ‘okay,’ it is normal to seek out the help you need.
This education must extend well beyond the Soldier to include the communities of counselors, doctors, lawyers, employers, and even Families that surround our Soldiers.
Bringing a new understanding forward, Soldiers will begin to receive the training, care, and treatment that they need–not what the uninformed believe they need. A mechanic doesn’t use one tool to fix all problems. Why should a doctor?
PTSD may not be a “D,” but it does require effort, patience, love, and a way of thinking things through–a way of thinking that may need to last a lifetime. Everyone in our culture, including those who are connected to us, must understand this new ‘normal.’
Now with my rambling done…
I don’t know if this constitutes a blog, but I decided I would just write what stuck with me and stood out from this impressive event.
From personal and professional experience, I can attest to the resiliency and strength inherent in a Soldier and an Army Family. This conference highlighted many issues, some great and some still in need of vast improvements. My personal take-away is that our leadership is near obsessive in its intent to bring evolutionary developments in care to the Families of our fallen, as well as for our wounded warriors and their Families.
Are these systems and processes perfect? Far from it. Still, I am certain that our Army leadership, from General Casey and on down the chain, will never leave a fallen comrade behind, regardless of the circumstances.
If you think I’m off target then your mission is to get engaged in working a solution.
As we learned in basic training, look left–look right; someone will be there to listen. Talk to your buddy, your spouse, your leadership, your doc, yourself. You are, and never will be, alone.
Wounds take on many shapes and size, some are visible, some are not–but all are wounds that need attention. Your new ‘normal’ may take time to evolve, but you will never be alone in this journey.
It was my honor to participate in this event and to have had the chance to share my thoughts with you. My deepest respect goes to all who serve, our Families, and our Nation. Thanks.