Veterans Tip of the Week: Fear and Self-loathing, You are Not Alone!
I just helped an elderly woman step down the curb. She was standing at the curb, cane in hand, hesitating, clearly concerned and distressed. People walked by without noticing her situation. But I know, instantly. After speaking with her, I offered my arm for support. She stepped down without incident, and declined my offer to help her get into her car.
This anecdote is not about me, or the woman, but about fear. The kind of insidious fear that creeps into your soul when you have infirmity and stability issues. Am I going to fall, is that puddle going to make me slip, can I support my weight on my good leg while I step down this 4 inch curb?
When we talk about how a veteran’s struggle might be internal; having been there, I can tell you it is just like the obvious struggle this woman was having negotiating the slightest of curbs. The barriers, both mental and physical, become larger and larger, and the veteran impacted more and more below the surface.
Imagine once being a fit, engaged, warrior (which is how we think of ourselves), who can now barely cross the street. How does one unpack that, especially if you’re a younger veteran? Fear creeps in, self-loathing for being afraid leads to depression, and add in maybe a dash of PTSD so you are always on edge anyway, and that curb becomes the reason you are having a bad day. So there you are, having that inner planning session on how you are going to walk back to the car, knowing that it is going to hurt physically and crack the door for the fear to creep in ever so slightly more. All this while just trying to get through your day, smiling and hiding the pain, afraid to step off the curb unsupported.
I have been that person at the curb, at the top of the stairs, desperately looking for the handrail to take the steps one at a time, or sitting in one place all night long at the party because it hurt to even stand for a few minutes.
If you are the one struggling, you are not alone. There are resources out there to help you. There is another veteran out there, willing to stop and lend an arm to lean on. You just have to reach out. I pursued the medical path, with a total knee replacement, PT and a lot of nights just waiting for the pain to subside long enough to fall asleep. I am still not where I want to be physically, but making improvements, and the fear is gone. I also sought refuge in service to others as a VFW Post Service Officer, and I sought comfort among my fellow veterans at the coffee socials that have popped up. The point is, there are many paths away from the fear, you just have to have the courage to take one step, because there will be a lot of others on that path with you. You are not alone.
Here are a bunch of general resources to help you get started.
MyHealtheVet: https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/home – a general VA healthcare portal
Veterans Health Administration: https://www.va.gov/health/ – overview of VA medical
Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ – 1-800-273-8255 (Press1) – 24/7 people who will listen – you can call on behalf of a veteran
VA mental Health: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/ – I hear so many stories about how VA mental health services really help people at the deckplate level, but you have to want to be helped
VA Compensation: https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/ – there is much more than just VA disability available
VA Disability: https://www.va.gov/disability/ – VA disability portal
Military Disability Made Easy: http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/index.html – a great overall resource for understanding the VA disability rating system
Veterans Northeast Outreach Center: https://www.vneoc.org/ – don’t forget to research local resources and non-profits – this one in Haverhill covers MA and NH and provides a whole suite of support
As always, please feel free to PM me if you have questions regarding your VA Benefits. If I don’t know the answer, we will find it together. #gogetrated
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Greetings my name is Rich,
I own U.S Veterans and I am a Veteran. I am making a website to help and inform US Veterans. I have many sites I own so I am a little slow at times. For those of you that have been following me this is my final answer for this website U.S. Veterans! I will be populating and updating it over the next few months as the site grows I hope to open it up more for veterans to log into and help and inform others of their experiences by early 2021.. I hope you find something helpful here and be sure to check back for updates. I have many news sites, you will find the RSS Feeds for those sites on U.S. Veterans.