A little help means vet with PTSD can move on to new life

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Sal Dimiceli | October 30, 2013


Dear W.C.,

I am a woman veteran who has been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. I have been driving to Madison for treatment. I have not been able to get a job yet due to the nature of my disability. I am easily stressed and cannot handle any loud noises. I am barely able to afford my rent and utility expenses, let alone the gas and car repairs necessary to continue my treatment in Madison. I have found an affordable rental in the Madison area, along with the prospect for a bookkeeping job in a quiet office that would be perfect for me. I am allowed to work from home a few days a week. What I need help with is the repairs to my car and a security deposit for the Madison apartment.

Vet Trying to Move Past PTSD

Dear Readers,

I called this woman knowing an unexpected visit may be too stressful for her. I was encouraged when she asked me to come by to talk. I asked if she would like to meet in a public place but she declined due to the noises and activity being too difficult. When I arrived at her apartment I knocked softly, like she had asked, and waited for her to come to the door. After I introduced myself I admitted I did not have a lot of experience with PTSD.

I did not ask the woman about her experience in the military or her injuries. She must have felt comfortable with me to share her story. The woman told me about her active duty overseas. Tearfully she told me how she had witnessed the loss of several of her comrades and that is what triggered her PTSD symptoms. I told her she did not have to go on as I could clearly see she was in distress. She paused for a minute and then said, "I feel I can talk to you about this and you will understand. So many people do not know what I am going through. They do not see a physical injury so they wonder why I cannot move on." She said any sound that remotely resembled gun fire or explosions could have her on the floor cowering in fear. Any sudden movements by people in her vicinity, shouting, would send her into a panic attack. She said the only thing helping her was her treatment she was receiving at the veterans hospital.

Wanting to move her past the traumatic experiences she shared with me, I asked about her income and her lease. She showed me her outstanding bills and a quote for her car repairs.

She was very organized and her apartment was extremely neat. When I commented on this she said it was learned from her military training. I asked if I could look around, wanting to check for any traces of substance abuse. She was smart enough to know what I was looking for and told me outright that I would not find any alcohol or drugs in her apartment. After opening several nearly empty cabinets and an empty refrigerator I felt she was being honest. She said, "My father was a mean alcoholic and is the reason I joined the military. The last thing I want in my life is to be like him. I spent most my life trying to get away from him."

I asked about the job offer and she was excited to tell me about it. She said she had bookkeeping skills and liked the fact she had her own small office without any windows. I commented that most people would not like that setting, but she said she liked the quiet atmosphere when she went for her job interview. They wanted her to begin the following week but she still did not have the security deposit needed for the new apartment. I asked if I could call the new employer to confirm her job. She handed me the phone number and said, "I read how you check things out when you help." I made the call and her new supervisor was very helpful.

When I told her "we" would be proud to help a veteran, that "we" would help make it possible for her to move where she could continue to improve daily and "we" would make sure her car was repaired to safe working order, she began to cry again. She said, "I usually do not cry like this. I thought the military had toughened me up to the point I could no longer cry, yet here I am crying twice in one day with you. My counselor would be happy to see my progress here." With that she smiled for the first time since I met her. I smiled back and told her I was glad that "we" were able to help her in more ways than just financially.

After her car was repaired she was on her way to her new life in Madison. She called me several weeks later to thank all of "us" for making it possible. She told me how she was able to attend more sessions and had begun her new job. She was very happy with the changes in her life. She even had made a few friends. Her life was no longer spent worrying about what might trigger her PTSD. It now was centered on living a meaningful life.

Together we do good works, as we continue to remove the pains of poverty for those in desperate need. Together we restore hope and faith in the goodness of creation.
Health & Happiness, God Bless Everyone, W.C./Sal

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