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Guest Blog Post ~ Invisible Wounds of War

March 2, 2011

I was contacted recently by a blog reader named Tim Elliot who wanted to share with me his thoughts and knowledge on the invisible wounds of war. I gladly invited him to participate as a guest blogger on “This Army Life.” Here is the result of his writing.

“The Difficulty of Dealing with Invisible Wounds”
By: Tim Elliot

There’s no overstating how difficult it can be for families when a service member is deployed overseas, but increasingly military families have been facing an entirely different set of difficult circumstances. Not only are thousands of soldiers returning home wounded, an increasingly high number of those wounds are so-called ‘invisible wounds’. Invisible wounds, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and mesothelioma, can be particularly difficult for family members to cope with because at first they may not appear to be directly related to active duty. For example, the symptoms of PTSD include feeling numb and hyper arousal- both of which can be difficult to family members, especially children, to recognize as symptoms of a disease. Similarly the symptoms of mesothelioma and TBI are often difficult to recognize. However, allowing invisible wounds to go untreated is a grave mistake. Without treatment TBI can be deadly and cut off the needed oxygen flow to the brain, and the mesothelioma life expectancy is only between one and two years because it commonly goes untreated. It can be extremely difficult to have a service member return home after their tour only to see them distinctively changed by an invisible wound, but it’s important to remember that, just like any other injury, with the right resources these wounds can be treated. A soldier with a TBI can receive extensive rehabilitation that involves physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, a soldier with PTSD can receive counseling and group therapy, and with careful attention to the early mesothelioma symptoms it’s possible for the tumor to be surgically removed. And, of course, throughout any of these treatments any soldier will need the support of his community and family.

Tim can be reached for comment at creative4lyfe(at)gmail(dot)com

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