I spent Monday morning differently than I usually do. Instead of making breakfast for the children and I, and staring at my to do list for the week, I gathered a notebook, and my laptop and went to a workshop put on by the Arkansas Veterans Affairs.
The program is called Life Guard, and it is the only program of its type in the Veterans Administration. For now.
My Husband, went to his first Life Guard workshop in August. He left with such a fantastic feeling about the workshop, he has encouraged his chain of command and peers to get involved with this program. The Veterans Affairs here in Arkansas have had such positive feedback, they are now requested to bring this work shop to several Armories in the state.
The program was informal, using living examples, and skits by the presenters, to give examples of issues. DH and I both loved this, particularly after all of the PDHRA (Post Deployment Health Re-Assessment). Which is great information, but tends to be presented in such a stodgy and formal manner, that interest tends to be lost.
The topic at this current Life Guard workshop centered around. "Feelings". For example, if I say the word "late, up, or white," what emotions and feeling come into play for you? What words do you hear in conjunction with that? It was explained, that "we" cannot control what feelings are evoked by a word or situation. People feel what they feel.
We CAN however, change how we react to that feeling, and we can change how we react to one another.
This information is not only helpful on a day to day basis. It is helpful to those who have been deployed. To men or women that may have intrusive thoughts, where certain emotions are at surface. Particularly, when certain memories can be triggered by a sound, smell, word, driving under an overpass or thought.
The person having these intrusive thoughts, cannot help but have them. It really is what it is. These thoughts and feelings can effect communication, and can be confusing to those people having them.
Thoughts, can pull people out of reality, and pull them into memories that are stressful. This can lead to problems communicating, sleeping, functioning, and functioning in a comfortable manner.
There is also a lot of guilt re: intrusive thoughts and the separation they can cause between people, a lot of men and women do not know how to deal with these sorts of feelings. Some, try and escape by working long hours, separating self from family, avoiding activities that were once enjoyable, avoiding people, and some even turn to chemicals, or alcohol.
This was a great reminder to me as a spouse to always make sure I am understood, to be clear and concise, to give space. To understand that sometimes giving another person twenty minutes to recollect themselves, might be in order.
As a spouse I found this information extremely helpful. Not simply the information. I was relieved to see nodding heads, and a feeling of relief that seemed to go over the small audience in a wave. It reminded me a lot of our SpouseBuzz presentation at Fort Hood. A group of people learning what is "normal, and OK", and the relief that brings.
Now of course of these thoughts or feeling start to prohibit normal function, interfere with enjoyment, hobbies, sleep, or work. Please make sure and seek help. Call One Source (1-800-342-9647)or seek out a Chaplain. Help is there, and ready for you.
However, the good news is, "feelings" are normal. It is how we learn to handle them that really defines us and our families.
Making choices and decisions based on our ethics and morals. Making our lifestyles conducive to maintaining a good physical and emotional presence. Centering ourselves and bringing ourselves back to reality by taking a moment of quiet and breathing. Taking the power away from the "feeling", and giving the power to ourselves to react as rationally as we can.
It really was a wonderful way to spend the morning, and I would love to see the Veterans Administration take this program and create a maintenance team, all over our military bases, here and where are loved ones are serving. To help those who serve, and families is really the kind of investment that makes sense.
The Presenters have also agreed to prepare an audio presentation of the Life Guard Workshop for the SpouseBuzz audience. I think, we owe it to ourselves and our spouses to listen!!
I will certainly keep you all up to date when the segment will be available via pod cast.
Thank You to the Life Guard presenters from the Veterans Affairs, for thinking out of the box, and making help available to everyone without the stigma of the "paper trail".