PORTLAND, OR — Every veteran has a story. The tragedy is that most of those tormented by PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) cannot share theirs without re-traumatizing. Image and video hosting by TinyPic
“That is why we are not hearing many stories from veterans, though they all have them,” says Welby O’Brien, author of LOVE OUR VETS: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD. “Those of us who love our vets are learning to honor and respect them as well as their story. To not exploit it. Nor to run from it. But to honor and respect them.”
Even many who say they might tell their story, often cannot, explains Welby. However, these small “windows of tolerance” can lead to healing. She states, “It’s just hard to tell what effect sharing will have on the individual. It may stir up all the tormenting emotions and plunge them deeper into the dark pit, or it could be a positive step in the direction of emotional healing—so many factors are at play. Including how safe they feel at the moment.”
Recently Welby’s husband Frank, a 100-percent disabled Vietnam Vet with PTSD, found a window of tolerance to share his story… the morning a blast took out half his platoon, including his best friend, in the exact spot he had stood just seconds before.
“Chances of you seeing Frank tell his story on national T.V. are very small,” says Welby about her husband. “It has taken 44 years for him to share this much, and that was a huge step in itself. He supports what I am doing to help the countless people who are living in a silent hell each day, and their loved ones, and for that I am truly grateful – to be able to share our story of healing and hope. We want families to know that they are not alone!”
The founder of the PTSD Family Support Network on Facebook, Welby engages thousands of families daily, answering questions and sharing posts that have reached as high as 275,000 people in one week. And the list of followers is rapidly growing, as word spreads to others tormented by PTSD, seeking hope, healing, support and access to share their stories as caregivers or those who suffer from PTSD. She also is endeavoring to meet a desperate need in helping establish local PTSD Family Support groups in cities across the country where there are none.
Acknowledging that there is no simple formula, through the PTSD Family Support Network Welby and others recognize the need to honor and respect people’s stories. And they are thrilled when they see hurting people coming out of the soul-stealing pain and begin to live, perhaps for the first time. Image and video hosting by TinyPic
“The story in and of itself should never be enough,” says Welby. “But if the story grows into something that helps heal other people, then that is a story worth hearing.”
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