I (Jocelyn Green) recently learned of a Web site that I’m so excited to share with you. The Veterans’ PTSD Project, begun Sept. 11, 2011, aims to change the conversation about PTSD from all the staggering statistics and tragic stories to stories of hope and inspiration written by veterans–and their family members–who are overcoming PTSD in their lives. I love the concept behind this project, and I love the Web site. Here’s a little more info, taken from the site:
The Veterans’ PTSD Project is inspired by the strength of our American Service Members and Veterans, ground-breaking research on Post-Traumatic Stress done on behalf of the U.S. Army, and the Project’s mission to change the national conversation about PTSD. But this passion to share Service Members’ stories of hope and resilience was born from very personal struggles and experiences with PTSD.
After several deployments, Project co-founder, Virginia, was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after her third time to Iraq in 2006. PTSD was not a common acronym then and the diagnosis carried stigma, confusion and isolation; she faced hardships at home and at work. Virginia kept her diagnosis a secret and felt both embarrassment and shame.
Determined to get better, she regularly attended counseling, but it fell short of addressing her needs. A counseling student herself, Virginia dug into current research to find how others before her got through their PTSD and made it back to full recovery. Unfortunately, the information available did not provide a road map back to health. The literature fell into two general categories: diagnostic manuals for mental health professionals and volumes and anthologies filled with stories of suicide, bankruptcy, broken families, and tragedy.
Virginia turned to her family and her “battle-buddies” with whom she had deployed. By starting an honest dialogue, she and her fellow Veterans encouraged each other. They found that they shared a common story, and, moreover, that they wanted to move on – from PTSD to resilience. And they did – through faith, family, and community, each of them came away stronger than before and look back on this time as an incredible period of personal growth. None became a statistic, and neither do the vast majority of Service Members who are diagnosed with PTSD.
In late 2008, Virginia, her cousin, Joan, and a close network of friends and family talked about their incredible journeys to Post-Traumatic Growth. Joan, a marketing executive with a rehabilitation hospital and long-time volunteer for brain injury support groups, was no stranger to PTSD and understood how isolated one can feel. They dreamed of a resource that would encourage other Veterans and Service Members by sharing success stories with others. “There is so much I would want to tell someone who is where I was years ago, and, through The Veterans’ PTSD Project, I can.”
Virginia and Joan launched The Veterans’ PTSD Project on September 11th, 2011 and have dedicated their time to changing the national conversation on Post-Traumatic Stress to one of resilience, hope, and even Post-Traumatic growth. The volunteers at The Veterans’ PTSD Project believe that Veterans, Service Members and their friends and families will find inspiration and strength from each other. More Service Members have worked through PTSD than have not, and we are proud of those who have been brave enough to share their personal narratives of hardship, strength, perseverance, and, ultimately, resilience.
I’m sharing this Web site with you for two reasons.
- If you have been touched by PTSD somehow, or know someone who has, I encourage you to read stories of post-traumatic growth on the blog.
- If you have been touched by PTSD personally, I strongly encourage you to share your story through the Web site. They are looking for true, inspirational stories. That doesn’t mean your life has to be perfect right now. It just means you have something to share that you have learned in the process. You’ve grown somehow, you have found hope, and you want to tell someone. This is a wonderful opportunity for you or your spouse to work through your experience through writing, which can be very therapeutic. (The book Two Wars by veteran Nate Self, started out as just a therapeutic journaling exercise.) It’s also an incredible opportunity to share with others what difference the Lord makes in your life. Though The Veterans’ PTSD Project is not a faith-based Web site, they’re not going to censor your story if you share that God is the source of your hope. In fact, one of the co-founders is a strong supporter of Faith Deployed and Faith Deployed…Again. I know she would welcome your submissions! If you don’t have much experience at writing, there are even tips on the Web site about how to go about sharing your story. So go ahead. You have something to share. Write it. Let others be inspired.
Finally, just a note that if you need support dealing with post-traumatic stress, check out the resources offered to veterans, soldiers, their families and churches by Military Ministry, an official partner of Faith Deployed.