PTSD Help for Families
Loved Ones, Spouses, Family May Need Attention, Too
Hi my name is Brian Wiklendt with Garfinkel Schwartz. I’m lead counsel here in Maitland, Florida, that’s a suburb of Orlando. We also have an office in Cocoa Beach Florida which is in the middle of the Space Coast.
I’m here today to explain to you my insights on what’s become a very large problem in our area of the world, in our neck of the woods, per se, in terms of the law, under the Defense Base Act which is PTSD.
You may watch a video on the Garfinkel Schwartz YouTube Channel called, “PTSD Help for Families of Military Contractors.”
I actually kind of snickered when I was a young guy and I heard people call themselves attorneys and counselors at law. I didn’t really understand what that meant until I got a little older.
Today, I’m coming to you as a counselor more so as an attorney to try to get you information for what and your families need to try to get you diagnosed with PTSD if you so happen to have that.
Our clients under the Defense Base Act are called a bunch of different things.
Who Are the Contractors Affected by PTSD?
I’ve heard them called overseas contractors, federal contractors, private military contractors, overseas translators, military translators, linguists, field operations personnel. Whatever that is, whatever they’re called, they’re the forgotten people in our society.
Many of them are former military who retire and go into the private sector. Some become civilian contractor managers.
And what I mean by that is that they have no voice if they see something or they get affected by something overseas that is a tragic occurrence, that might be a brutal occurrence that might cause potential mental problems when they get back home.
A lot of my clients have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Served right alongside them and saw the same things that they saw. But when they came back in 2011, 2012, they weren’t provided basically anything. When I mean “anything,” I mean “nothing.” They got a plane ticket home they said thanks a lot for the service, and they went home.
Whereas in the Military, PTSD is a hot issue. It’s been a hot issue for a few years now, military people get vetted, they have briefings, exit briefings. They’re analyzed to see if they’re not really the same person that they were after a certain combat mission things like that.
Our clients have no voice they’re the forgotten soldiers, they’re the forgotten ones. And there are a lot of them out there. And in fact there are probably so many of them out there that you’d probably be shocked.
More Civilian Contractors Overseas
Considering that’s a hot button in the military, there are a lot of support groups out there for military personnel.
Unfortunately, after the last several years of me out there searching, I have not found one that basically caters simply to overseas contractors/whatever else you want to call them.
And we’re trying to make our best efforts to have that voice, to provide a voice for the people, the people that we represent.
But as a counselor, what I’ve been seeing a lot of is complete and utter denial of having symptoms or telling anyone about their symptoms. And there are a lot of reasons why an overseas contractor would have that type of denial situation.
A lot of times they’re afraid to talk about what they’ve seen overseas because they’re afraid that they may violate a confidentiality agreement with the United States.
Denial That There is Denial
Denial is a very, very deep-seated thing in a person’s mind and it’s very difficult thing to get through to them. They might be in denial so bad that they deny that they’re in denial. And I see that a lot which is kind of shocking however, that’s just how the mind works when it gets overexposed to certain things.
The reason that denial is mostly in my opinion deeply rooted into our clients at first is because they originally to take a job like that, they have to have love for country. They have to have secret security clearance. Meaning that they have to be top-notch people.
And when you’re a top-notch person, you have to have a deep sense of who you are, and how you were brought up and how you view yourself and the world. And when that stuff starts to be all ripped apart in your brain, whether that’s three months after you’ve seen some bad things or whether that’s three years after you’ve seen some bad things. It’s difficult to understand that you’re a different person than you were back then when you had your sense of how you were.
Basically what I’d like to talk about more so in terms of the client the potential client, it’s the family that’s affected by these things.
And maybe get a little bit of advice on how to help your loved ones seek the treatment that they may need.
And when I talk about denial, it’s very difficult even your own spouse, would have a problem, your own spouse could have difficulty getting through to each other and to talk these things out because it’s difficult to understand what position their spouse is in.
Three Things That Have Helped People with PTSD
Sit Down and Talk With Your Spouse
I have three suggestions that I think have been effective in the past for people I’ve talked with. Number one is to simply sit down with your spouse and explain to them not particularly about what you think was wrong with them, but what is affecting your life.
And how important it is to try to get help on behalf of the family, not on behalf of the individual person who may be in denial.
Those are tough conversations to have. But if you focus on your family and you explain the things that are going through in your own mind. Things like isolation, something like we don’t go to movies anymore. We don’t go to the park anymore, I really miss those things. Let’s try to do those things again.
I miss going out and just walking, walking around the neighborhood. I’d like to try to get outside and get some fresh air. Whatever that is, in my opinion, it’s easier just to focus on your symptoms as a wife or husband than to try to push the symptoms on that person which could cause problems and troubles with the person that’s affected by these symptoms.
Also there’s a sense of emotional numbness that you might feel or experience that you’re not close to that person anymore. Talk to them and explain that’s how you feel.
“I feel like we’re falling away from each other. We’re not doing things intimately anymore like we used do. And maybe try to get through to the person’s mind that he or she has a duty that they’ve got to deal with this as a family.
Get Involved in Medical Treatments
If that doesn’t work, I would advise to get more involved in their regular normal medical treatment.
I’ve had clients in the past that end up going to the primary care physician with their loved ones to explain that things are happening in the household and that may open the person in denial up, at least enough to go see someone else besides their normal doctor that they see.
Maybe someone that specializes a little bit more in anger and anxiety and things that they’re feeling.
More Than the Usual Attorney Support
Thirdly you can always call our office, 1- 800-393-2999. We take calls from family members all the time.
Most of my clients who have severe PTSD I talk to them over speaker phone or in-person with them at their house. With the wives and family members involved every step of the way and even involved up to a formal hearing or trial.
That way I can try to help the family as a counselor but more than just being a person’s attorney and trying to get a claim filed.
The final thing which might sound a little bit drastic but it has worked in the past is that if you as the spouse actually feel feelings of isolation, depression, anger about the situation, feelings of despair, because maybe you’re contributing to the reasons why this stuff is not working. Or, why this person is in such denial, you might want to seek treatment on your own. And if you seek treatment on your own by a medical health care practitioner, it may open your spouses mind up to say this isn’t so bad after all. This isn’t such a terrible thing that I’ll be chastised for walking into the office.
Maybe if they see you getting help that you need for your anxiety, it will open the door for he or she to just come to a counseling session and open up the door to see if you can be evaluated for PTSD.
I hope you learned a little from this. I could talk on forever, but I’m now signing off from our Maitland office at Garfinkel Schwartz thank you very much for listening.