Today I am preparing the second funeral in less than a year for a young veteran who came home with PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) and died of complications from alcohol addiction. My heart is broken. Medication can help, but it doesn’t heal.
There is effective therapeutic treatment for PTSD that many of our veterans and their families don’t know about. EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) moves traumatic memory through the brain so it loses its power to be triggered and re-lived repeatedly. It uses directional movement of the eyes (similar to REM sleep) or other dual-stimulation techniques, such as sound alternating in the right and left ears, to reprocess disturbing images and memories. It has been researched extensively and helped millions of people throughout the world heal from many kinds of trauma.
When I returned to my work as a pastor after nine months of breast cancer surgeries and treatments, I was immediately called to the hospital to visit a young woman with lymphoma. When I came into her room, I began re-living the traumatic elements of my own treatment; it took every ounce of strength I had to stay there, talk and pray with her. I got out of there as fast as I could, realizing that I had PTSD.
I wasn’t going to be able to do my job if I didn’t get help and healing. Fortunately, I had learned of EMDR therapy several years earlier at a conference. I found an EMDR therapist in St. Louis whom I saw weekly, and was feeling much better within two months.
The National Center for PTSD reports that 10% of Desert Storm veterans, 11% of Afghanistan veterans, 20% of Iraqi veterans and 30% of Viet Nam veterans have PTSD. They can access free EMDR training through Trauma Recovery; those in St. Louis and may also contact our local chapter of the EMDR International Assoication, EMDRIA St. Louis, which also supports first responders.
Please help spread the word so we can support and save our veterans.