Yesterday, I was hosted by Chapters/Indigo in Halifax and later in Dartmouth for book signings. The events also gave me an opportunity to meet with many people; some vets and family members of serving and retired military/RCMP and even a clinician considering a position with our military mental health system. There were also guys who picked up the book, read some parts and simply walked away without a word. I knew they were military - we can pick each other out fairly quickly - but I respected their need for anonymity, whatever the reason. Maybe, they'll be back at some other time when nobody is around.
While it was re-assuring to hear people speak openly about their concerns for the mental health of military/RCMP, they do not know how to have this conversation with the person in thier lives. They don't want to upset them or 'trigger' them so their concerns and worry are never said out loud. It struck me that while we are focusing much needed education towards military and other first responders about mental distress signs and resources, often family members are left out. It is also important to include family members in these efforts and discussions. In terms of long-term success in resolving trauma reactions, healthy relationships and open communication within families are the main antidotes to the shame that often accompanies trauma reactions. My sincere thanks to everyone who stopped by for a chat.
John J. Whelan
John J. Whelan, Ph.D., is the author of Going Crazy in the Green Machine, available now on FriesenPress.