Forward by Ron Meuser, Jr.
Jen Yackley & I originally met with Dana (who wrote the story below), her husband Ed and his service dog Rex to hear their story and learn how I can help. They founded an organization called Soldier’s 6 whose mission is to provide honorably discharged veterans, police officers, and firefighters with specially trained K-9 dogs. The support they provide these brave individuals is nothing short of amazing and, unfortunately, very needed. We hear from our police officer & firefighter clients with PTSD that the suffering doesn’t end when the job is over and many don’t want the job to end. Dana and Ed’s story is very real, heartbreaking, and a reminder that we must be continuously supportive in any way we can. Please join Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. in supporting this worthy organization by going to https://www.soldiers6.com/help.
June is PTSD awareness month. This is my family, and it’s what our world revolves around. I don’t post things without Ed knowing. He reads everything I post and I show him all comments. It’s our way of healing. Our way of getting awareness to something so important in our family life.
We choose not to be silent anymore in the shadows of PTSD. We want to help another family or individual make it through another day knowing they can do this. No one deserves to go through this alone. Through our journey we have found who our true friends are, and the ones who were not meant to be in this next chapter of our lives. We have met some amazing new friends along the way. We have found a new meaning to our life, and that we don’t just have to settle.
In the midst of doctor appointments, kids, and therapy sessions, there is an us. A new us that is stronger than I could have ever believed. PTSD won’t break our family. We have learned how to fight beside the enemy. Our extended family has given us unconditional love and support, and we most certainly would not be where we are today, had they not been there. Being able to be home with the kids and to be Ed’s caregiver is a true blessing. It is my honor to take care of my hero. A hero who fought for our freedom serving our country and community and was willing to give his life for it.
As you may know, our life changed dramatically a few years ago, and has continued to change since Ed retired. A man who has embraced sobriety, stumbled along the way and gotten back up, and life without a uniform. That comes with many changes. For years he drank to quiet the voices and sounds of war in his mind to allow him to sleep. He did it to numb the pain, both physical and mental. He has seen things no human should have to witness and has endured pain no one should ever experience. A person who takes on so much mental anguish will only damage their mind and soul. They relive their traumatic experiences in a mind not wanting to let go. Somedays he drifts through life like it’s no problem, then there are days that bring challenges and it takes every ounce of energy just to live. He feels lost within himself, trapped in a body riddled with pain triggered from PTSD.
He can love like no other, but he knows alone, and many times will battle in a silence only I can see. He can carry so much guilt and sad thoughts about himself for doing a duty he was trained to do. He feels like a burden to others, but most of all to me. He knows death all too well. The thoughts of it, smells of it and the challenge not to give in. He is a man of honor. A man who cares about not letting others down. He loves so deeply that it crushes his soul when he isn’t right. His strength is that of a warrior. He wouldn’t place judgment on others as that isn’t his job, and he knows what it’s like to be there. Ed respects his family and would move mountains for us. His wisdom is beyond my world and his guidance through life is my compass.
Life can some days be a struggle when PTSD is nearby. It doesn’t make him a bad person. His world can be a dark place and lonely even though we are always here for him. There is always hope and better days ahead. This is just our story. And my hope is to end our silence in order to help others. Even if it’s only one person that we help, that’s more than I could hope for.
Please, be kind to one another – someone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. It’s the strong ones that smile for others and cry when no one sees. This I understand first hand. Let’s just not make June PTSD awareness month. It should be every day of every month. Help others end the silence. Awareness can help bring knowledge and we can all learn something from the most unexpected circumstances. It makes us who we are. I thank you all for being a part of our journey and the special ones whom we have welcomed into the once closed doors of our life.