Messages Home: Feb. 19, 2009

From Loretta Jasper, CSJ, who is working for a month at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany. To learn more about her mission, click HERE.

The thermometer on the dash of my car read -13 C. on the dash. The washer fluid remains frozen since yesterday. The frost on the car windows is very minimal. No wind, though, so that makes the outdoors more pleasant.

My time with military folks on base involved the following:

a) the couple who participated in the Battlemind session which I referenced yesterday became aware of the effects of separation due to the soldier being “down range”, or in battle.

In the midst of the frontline soldiers tending to the ongoing presence of snipers and IED’s–comparable to, but more forceful than buried grenades–while down range for the 15 months; (s)he returns: 1) vigilant for any tiny change in the environment and becomes upset when that occurs (spouse may have moved clothing in the closet, or furniture in the course of a day or during the deployment); 2) drives very slowly as if looking for IED’s/snipers (driving on the high speed European highways creates a bit of a problem); 3) unable to sleep without noise, or through the night; 4) the barking of orders and language of the battlefield doesn’t fit in the home with or without children present; 5) the different structure of the home is not comfortable; 6) guilt when something is not right or perfect; 7) not comfy without having a gun nearby at all times; 8) do not/unable to talk about what is going on at a given moment, and the 9) spouse “nags” for solution; on and on….

A large group of soldiers returned from Iraq four months ago. As you would suspect, it is at this time that the honeymoon of being back with family and into the day-to-day that results in shifts into increased distress, arguments, resuming/shifting roles in the household. It is difficult for the spouse to relinquish full role of the household while the soldier is home since it may be short term–6-9 months until the next deployment; or the soldier is sporadic in follow-through. I am not sure that folks are truly aware that post-traumatic stress doesn’t necessarily show itself soon after the trauma, but as the trauma itself lifts.

Staff who tend to these concerns on a daily basis continue to discover that multiple deployments create different effects; and each chapter of the deployment shifts effects. Since the need for soldiers continues, the recruiters are meeting the numbers and thus signing on folks with fewer social skills/support systems, etc. Another effect!

The csj Mission continues.

Loretta Jasper

One thought on “Messages Home: Feb. 19, 2009

  • February 20, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your daily experiences in Germany and the trauma that war has on the entire family. Makes me better understand my own family member with PTSD– the effects continue years after the trauma.

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