Military Injury Counseling
When a service member finds themselves injured, the road to recovery can be long and difficult. Levels of care and resources are often dependent upon their injury and too often soldiers feel isolated and alone. Injuries not only affect the soldier physically, but also their psychological well-being and family members. Severely injured service members will require ongoing treatment support and very often therapy to help cope with the loss.
What are the most common military injuries?
Traumatic Brain injury is one of the most common injuries reported, accounting for up to 50 percent of combat related casualties. This injury is very difficult as it is a “silent injury” that can have long lasting effects. Symptoms include feelings of dizziness, feeling tired all the time, having a hard time concentrating, being sensitive to sounds or lights, slowed thinking, changes in sex drive or behavior and difficulty organizing daily tasks.
PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after witnessing or experiencing a life threatening event. These traumatic events can include anything from military combat, being homeless, serious accidents, abuse, physical or sexual assault, or witnessing the death of another person. Living with PTSD or trauma is real. It is exhausting and without treatment often leads to severe depression and/or addiction. Survivors sometimes describe themselves as symptom free immediately following an event of this nature. However, closer examination often uncovers unresolved problems including nightmares, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, difficulty finding pleasure in life, relationship problems and feeling numb. Over a period of time these symptoms may escalate, sometimes leading to avoidance of crowded areas, inability to venture outside or participate in once pleasurable activities and scanning rooms for signs of danger.
Anxiety Disorder is characterized by six or more months of excessive worrying that significantly affects your life. Anxiety can leave you feeling hopeless, fearful and full of fright. Your life may be filled with stress and tension that you feel powerless to control. Living with heightened anxiety can be detrimental to long-term health. You may recognize that the things your worries are illogical, but can’t make yourself stop thinking about them or relax long enough to experience the peace needed to move on. As stress increases along with fear, you may experience panic attacks, which make it difficult to breathe, increases heart rate and cause excessive sweating. Heightened anxiety can affect your relationships, social interactions and even make it feel impossible to leave the house. Anxiety can also cause to depression and lead to substance abuse.
Depression hurts. Severe depression kills. Activities and people that you used to bring you joy don’t seem to matter anymore. You may feel isolated from friends and family, feel that nobody understands you and fear that there is no way out. It is common to feel fatigued, struggle to sleep well and not want to get out of bed in the morning. Motivation can be affected, and even simple tasks like getting dressed in the morning may be just one more thing you don’t want to do. Over time, it’s not uncommon to lose hope, and when depression is severe you may be willing to do anything to take away the pain. In desperate moments, the only solution you may feel is to end things or try to drown out pain with a substance.
Amputees may find that fragments of weapons and debris are left in their extremities. Battlefield wounds are left open because of high risk of infection to allow healing and then amputation followed by reconstruction often months or years after the initial injury. Phantom pain, the sensation of pain in the lost limb, can often occur. Service members may find themselves coping with the intense realization that they may never be able to function the way they once did as well as adjusting to a lifestyle without as much freedom, increased limitations and even job loss.
Spinal Cord injuries can disrupt sensation, feelings and function. Sometimes it can result in paralysis, which may leave an individual incontinent. Severe quality of life can be affected.
Loss of vision or hearing is common and can leave everyday activities previously taken for granted a frustrating experience. Service members may find that they have lost their independence. Individuals may find themselves under a high amount of stress and struggling with self-esteem and self-worth issues.
Burns make up approximately 5 to 20 percent of combat casualties, which are common in combat in armored vehicles. Severe burns can be decapitating and require many operations and skin grafts. Many individuals go through a process of grieving that can include shock, depression, anger and finally acceptance. They may battle self-esteem issues, depression and question their own self-worth. Military injury counseling can be effective in helping burn victims process how to cope with how they view themselves and how others react to them.
What is it like to grieve a military injury?
Depending on the severity, military injuries can be minor or debilitating. Injuries that others can’t see can add another dimension of difficulty as you may feel like nobody realizes that something is wrong but you. You may find that your mind wants something different then what your body is able to perform, which can be very frustrating when you are used to an active lifestyle. Grieving an injury is typical and can last years depending on its severity. You may wonder who you are now and question your self-worth. You may feel helpless or feel that you are a burden to others because you once lived a life of independence and now have to depend on others. Life may be filled with difficulties and limitations. If these struggles are pulling you down and causing depression it may be time to get help through military injury counseling.
How can the Military and Veteran Counseling Center help me with my injury?
We have worked with everything from lost sight and hearing, soldiers diagnosed with cancer caused from agent orange, burns, traumatic brain injury and the unseen disabilities PTSD, depression and anxiety. We can help not only you but your family as well. We realize every individual that is close to you may suffer from grief, adjustments and sense of loss. Partners as well as children may need assistance with the adjustments. Sometimes it may be hard to figure out what to tell children. If you are hurting yourself, you may not be able to provide the empathy and support that is needed for everyone in your family as you are adjusting to your different way of life. We are able to help you with your grieving process and find ways to utilize your strengths in moving forward. We can help family members and support them through this difficult time. You don’t have to endure this alone.
Where do I go from here?
We know you may feel defeated. You may feel like you haven’t quite been yourself for a long time. Don’t give up. We can help. Please contact us for a free confidential consolation with a therapist and let us know how we can be of service to you. We are happy to discuss you specific situation and to answer any questions you have about military injury counseling and our practice.
The experience of watching a loved one suffer from a military injury can take its toll. Many civilians find they, too, could benefit from counseling. If you’re a civilian and are concerned both about your loved one and yourself, consider Civilian Counseling.