May is National Mental Health month. In honor of that, I’d like to share a very personal story with you all.
I was approached by PTSD researcher and asked if I would be willing to share my story with the DCoE because they felt others could learn from my experience. I was very leery initially about going public with my "secret," considering there's still quite a dark stigma surrounding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Even after all this time, I’m afraid of the judgments people and my peers will pass. I'm scared that they will look upon me with lesser opinions or perhaps think me "less competent," which couldn't be further from the truth. I know that, but do they? So I debated at great length whether this was the right decision for me.
I’m still not 100% certain whether I’m fully comfortable with bearing my soul for all to see. However, I hope that my vulnerability and genuine concern for the mental stability of today’s fighting men and women shows my true dedication to helping those who’ve yet to seek help for themselves. With my husband’s support and encouragement, I decided to make it public knowledge – not for myself, but for the countless other servicemen and women who’ve suffered in silence for so long.
My story is just one of many. But the more we are open about this taboo subject, the less unmentionable it will become. I am scared - it’s true. I’m scared of the sideways glances, whispers, judgments and innuendo. I’m scared of rumors, misperceptions and hurtful comments. In combat, I could see the threat, assess it and move forward. This is a completely different battlefield. I hope that my battle buddies will join me in this fight against PTSD and those who perpetuate its dishonor.
There’s nothing shameful about PTSD and we should not make others feel shameful about having it. Join me!
The Real Warriors Campaign is an initiative launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) to promote the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families.
The Real Warriors Campaign promotes help-seeking behavior among service members and veterans with invisible wounds and encourages service members to increase their awareness and use of these resources. To reach the broadest audience possible, the campaign features a variety of strategies including outreach and partnerships, print materials, media outreach, an interactive Web site and social media. The campaign features stories of real service members who have sought treatment and are continuing to maintain successful military or civilian careers.
In addition, DCoE established the DCoE Outreach Center, a 24/7 call center staffed by health resource consultants to provide confidential answers, tools, tips and resources about psychological health and traumatic brain injury. The Outreach Center can be reached toll-free at 866-966-1020 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.