I had the honor of joining Real Warriors on a milbloggers roundtable discussion on Thursday June 9, 2011. You can read the specifics here at my Examiner.com article.
I first came across the Real Warriors initiative via Twitter. Real Warriors is a multimedia campaign sponsored by the Department of Defense to help anyone and everyone touched by the military, combat/deployment stress, and the invisible wounds of PTS and PTSD.
I was impressed with the large amounts of information presented on the site in a very matter-of-fact manner. It’s a place of acceptance, understanding, and no stigma. Besides information, Real Warriors helps connect users with local resources, health professionals, and support organizations. Beyond flowery words, Real Warriors offers concrete steps to take to seek help, specific advice on how to help someone you think may be struggling, and how to support service members and families you know.
Service members from every branch and rank explain their stories on videos like this one from SSgt Meg Krause (U.S. Army Reserve).
The real stories of real strength from Real Warriors like SSgt Krause help to dispel fears and anxiety about seeking help. The site does a great job of explaining how those struggling with PTS, combat stress, secondary PTSD, TBI, and other invisible wounds can get help and shouldn’t fear being judged or suffering consequences to their military career. The focus is on resiliency, recovery, and reintegration at all levels, across all stages of deployment and re-deployment for everyone who is affected.
The site is organized into areas for
Reservists and National Guard
As a military spouse at Camp Pendleton, married to a Marine who has served 4 tours in Iraq in 6 years, I can attest to the improvement the DOD and USMC has made in supporting warriors and families – there is a lot more support and understanding now than in 2003. The stigma of PTS, combat stress, and PTSD has been greatly reduced, but unfortunately it still definitely exists.
Thankfully, there are campaigns like Real Warriors that are working to remove the stigma. The campaign brings the issue to the forefront, starts conversations, and encourages help-seeking behaviors. The multimedia nature of the campaign recognizes that to really bring attention to the issues, once isn’t enough – constant, repeated offers of help and opportunities to talk presented across a variety of avenues (social media, YouTube, etc) are necessary as the approach that works for one person may not work for another.
For military spouses like myself, there are 2 different aspects to deployment-related issues – taking care of yourself and supporting your service member. It’s important to understand your feelings about the deployment experience. Acknowledgement of the difficulties and how they affect you is critical. Secondly, learning ways to support your service member is a huge component of being a military spouse. Understanding your service member’s experience and how they feel about it can sometimes be a challenge if they’re reluctant to acknowledge it to themselves but it’s important in order to be able to help them, especially if they’re struggling. Knowing that they’re loved, appreciated, and understood will make it okay and perhaps give them the strength to admit they may need help.
If you’re worried about someone and think they may need help, whether you’re a parent, co-worker, friend, or health professional, Real Warriors is a great place to start. You’ll find advice, insight and tips on ways to help, what to expect during recovery, and ways to talk about the issues from a place of love and understanding. If you know someone who’s in crisis right now CALL THIS NUMBER 1-800-273-8255 (Veteran’s Crisis Line).