June 13, 2010

Military Wife Writes a Letter of Complaint

Dear Uncle Sam,

Thank you for keeping my husband alive during war and for that I am grateful. I stood by him through 15 months with a heavy heart, spent sleepless nights worrying about him, and prayed that another day would bring some type of communication. I proudly showed our country's flag and my blue star banner, and literally bled, red, white and blue when was asked of me. You made sure he was fed, showered, clothed, had ammunition when he needed it, and Medical care when he was injured. He fought, and fought hard never questioning his duty, because like many of our brave men and women....your orders are all that mattered and they had a job to do. They did it. Not once did my husband ever complain, because again, it was his duty and he was proud to serve you.

While being grateful, I would like to file a complaint against the United States Military, United States Government and for all those parties that had anything to do with this Middle Eastern War. You sent me back the wrong man. A man, who as I casually watch outside sitting in a chair, no longer communicates with the world, expresses any emotions, and who's family he has left a long time ago all while remaining under the same roof. A man who can't go into public without freaking out, and who's anger and frustrations roll upon his family like a deadly Tsunami. Somewhere over Ramadi, Iraq and back through Afghanistan to come home, my husband must have been switched with someone else. I sent you my husband over there with good faith in you that he would return, and you have let me down.

Military Wife gives Uncle Sam a much needed ass kicking...
You gave me all the promises and education I needed for insurance, reintegration, what to do "if this happens" scenarios....but you never told me about this. You said some of our guys might come home with sleep problems or some emotional issues those first few months home. You told us that this is simply a readjustment period and those too shall pass. Uncle Sam, it's been three years. PTSD/TBI never goes away, nor does it simply involve a sleepless night. You failed to mention all the horrors, the struggles, and let downs in between. You didn't tell me that I would be raising a family by myself and taking care of my husband, and you also failed to mention that I would be alone in my marriage with no one to talk to about it or having to deal with my own personal demons alone. You sent him home and left us here.

Your Veteran's Administration is ok. Not too impressed with appointments twice a year to see a psychiatrist. Not impressed at all with a psychiatrist who simply wants to know about any side effects from the meds and then dismisses your soldier with no advice or comments. It took us six months to get us in to begin with and we were treated with total disregard; almost like we were dog poop accidentally stepped in and bothersome to a new pair of expensive shoes. Twice a year is what my husband and our family is worth right? His primary physician I am highly disappointed in because her concerns with my husband's daily bowel movements is more priority than dealing with his PTSD. Fish oil tablets, Vitamin E, D, and all the ABCs do not make a difference in his PTSD I can assure you. He has no problems with his bowel movements, and would love to actually collect it one day and drop it in on your desk and say "HERE IT IS-Now what's next?". We now have a TBI diagnosis in which both of us are still not sure what to do or where to begin, but in six months...we should have an appointment for someone to treat us like crap again. Looking forward to it.

As far as my family is concerned, I would like to file a complaint not just for me but for all spouses. You didn't tell us you would send us home our soldiers so mentally messed up they could not function. You didn't tell us that all of this would fall on our shoulders alone without any help or resources. The ones you did provide us "no longer had volunteers so therefore we are unable to help you". You failed to disclose all the problems our families would face and how hard it would be to struggle each and every day. You failed to provide any type of help at the Veteran's Administration for us spouses dealing with your mistakes. You did provide a once a month meeting in which the "therapist" constantly regarded her watch more than the spouses. You provided us one hour, in which it took 30 minutes of that waiting for the counselor to get there. Thirty minutes a month was all we were worth to the VA. I could not unload a .0005 section of our family problems in that time allotted.

What happened to the resources you promised? If you are heavily depending on volunteers to "give an hour" and they are no longer doing that program, did you just give up? What, we could not take a little bit off each bill or new legislation to pay a professional their time to help us? You also failed in finding volunteers, because of the 20 I called and spoke to....the reason they quit was because no one had told them that they would be dealing with PTSD/TBI/Reintegration issues because guess what? They have no clue what those are nor did they have any experience with working with the military.

My husband along with many deserve more than that. As families, we stayed strong and held down the forts while they were gone. You basically used, abused and then shoved them aside with no second thoughts. Now the families are left trying to hold our family together, keeping our insanity together, and getting all the crap that rolls downhill. Spouses desperately are seeking help all over the United States, seeking some answers and just a knowledge that someone else knows what they are going through. They are seeking because so many of us don't know where to go and the government has failed us, our children, and our soldiers. I want you to stop what you are doing and take a look at the suicide rates among returning US soldiers. Five minutes is all I am asking. Unless they walk in and shoot themselves in the head as in recently, or on a military installation, nothing is ever done or accomplished.

You write pamphlets on all these subjects, but they are just that...paper. It reads like stereo instructions rehashing jargon no one can understand. What we do understand is that you sent us home monsters and left us alone to deal with it. As you looking through those suicide rates, cross reference that with spouse suicides. Then if you have a minute or two to spare, look at the children who went through hell and now have lost either if not both parents. Just because it doesn't make national news or headlines doesn't mean it just went away. As a supporter of our military, I will still always wave my flag and be proud of our country. Not because of the ones who hold government offices, but because we have so many good people in our country. I will always be the first to yell "Hoo-ah", and help any of our fellow military men and women...but don't expect me to say I am proud of you, Uncle Sam. On behalf of all of us spouses you gave the shaft to, and on behalf of all our military you shoved to the side when you no longer had use for them....I file this complaint.

Sincerely,

The Military Wife

10 comments:

  1. Hi my name is Sgt Brassell, I have mild case of PTSD, but there isnt a mild case, I had an out burst saturday, and they are saying its my fault, but to me all I say was the enmy and wanted to defuse the treat to me, and now they want to punish me for the help I didnt receive when I told them about my problems and the drinking and all the anger I feel inside and the are pushing me to a point of noreturn about trying to dog me out about a problem that is tore my faimly apart.

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  2. Enough said SGT Brassell, go to your local VA and check yourself in and get some help. You must still stand ready for your responsibilities of which I have no doubt that you will follow your duty. Start the process for getting out of the military, learn of your benefits and make sure the government makes good on their promise.

    I offer to you suggestions based on my experience and I got out of the Army. What I did not do was what I just suggested about getting my benefits liked up before I was honorably discharged.

    Up in the top right had corner you will find a list of links detailing resources laced with my story as a backdrop to easing another warriors pain in returning home. To the Combat PTSD Veteran, we tell a soldier or veteran of war welcome home because the battle never leaves us, as we return from conflict everyday of our lives.

    Actually SGT I think the Mistress or Caregiver can give you the best suggestions or resources they live with their Combat PTSD Vets.

    Ladies...

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  3. Leaving this in several comments!!

    Sgt Brassell,
    First off...all I can give you is advice which is worth as much as you paid for it, but hopefully it helps. The hardest part is already done with! You admitted you have a problem and you came here to look for answers. That was the hardest step! Go to a mirror in your home, and look at yourself. Take a deep breath, exhale and say "I have PTSD and that's ok. I WILL get help. I will not back down to no one". Your comment made me cry this evening because I want to fix all of this for everyone, and just can't do it by myself.

    Now that you have done that, let's begin. Now this is not going to be easy, and it's going to be a fight. I don't know if you are out of service, still in, etc. I am assuming that you are not getting disability benefits as of yet, but we will get to that. First, are you in the VA system? Meaning, did you fill out a mountain of paperwork, been assigned a primary care doctor and received an ID card?

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  4. If not, we will get to that. If you are in the system, then go to the ER. Tell them you are drinking, suffering from what issues you have (make yourself a list to remind you-what makes you drink? What sets you off? etc) and that you have suicidal thoughts. NOW before you say no, no no. Let me explain why. The VA will have to see you in the ER, but more than likely and from other spouses...they are turning more and more away dismissing them left and right. Right now, the VA does not want any more bad light on them especially ones that hit headlines. More than likely, if you are suffering and drinking...you have had at least ONE time in this time period of thinking it was easier to be KIA than come home with problems. So technically it's not a lie, simply a stretch to get the help you need. They will direct you from there. If you are not in the system at all, you can still go but you can go to step 2.

    Second option: The Vet Center in your area. If you can't find it in the phone book, call the VA switchboard and get the number. There are counselors there trained, and all veterans who have been there and done that. My husband's counselor is a veteran and been to Iraq twice and has PTSD himself. They can see you whether you are in the system or not. Go, spill your guts and say hey I am drinking and having these problems. They can also get you into the VA system and get you help there, along with starting your paperwork with the VA for disability. The Vet Center also has options for marriage counseling among other programs. Call and make yourself an appointment. Whether you are in or out of the system, take advantage of the center.

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  5. It saddens me to see another family destroyed by something that isn't your fault. I am going to give you advice based on my experiences over the last three years and perhaps PTSD:Caregiver can pitch in as well. Listen carefully.....If this was me all over again, talk to your wife. Talk to your family as a whole. You don't need to explain why you have these problems or what you saw, what just snapped...nothing. Just explain what is going on with you. Most often than not, the Veteran with problems will literally push away their loved ones without even knowing it. Outbursts, triggers, emotional problems scare the hell out of us when we don't understand. Pushing us away and scaring us without knowing or understanding, makes us want to run. Educate them. Send your family to this site for resources, send your wife to mine and PTSD:Caregiver's blogs because more than likely, she is suffering like we are and not knowing makes it worse. At least with us, we can say "My husband has PTSD" and in our cases, Traumatic Brain Injury. In your case, it sounds like your family has no clue what's going on with you. Also, send them to www.familyofavet.com. I like this site because the writers make it simple to understand. We don't need a scientific explanation, we just want to know what is wrong with our spouses. Knowing what's going on, makes it easier for us to understand and somewhat tolerable. I know that's hard to understand, but you have to look at how much stress, emotional roller coasters you put us on, and the hell we go through as a family. Looking back, if my husband had just said "I am having problems and I need to talk to you"....I could have probably taken on the world by his side.

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  6. Once you sit down with them, explain what is going on, then you need to tell them "I need your help. I can't do this alone" and you shouldn't have to. Explain that you have gone to this site for help and you are going to go and get it. PTSD is a HUGE monster divider that just literally eats up the bonds between families and marriages. You have to sit on one side of the couch and face PTSD head on together. Often than not, it just eats you up and the family to where there is no bond or love between them. Don't let this happen. I know it's tough to take on criticism, and Veterans with these issues often become defensive. Allow some time for your family to talk. Remember this is not a one way street and that you are ALL fighting together. Allow your spouse to talk about what she is going through. Sit down with her or your family and make a list together for your doctor, psychiatrist etc of problems going on. We live with you....we see a lot more than you do and notice even the smallest of changes. There may be things you miss that sends up flags for us family members. Explain to your family that you need their help and their input. When you think you are going to flip out or get upset...stop a few minutes. Count to ten and remember that you are needing help. Your family is there, and loves you. We are not the enemy.
    I don't have much information on you to give you direct advice, but just guessing. If your family is separated right now, call a meeting. Get them together and work together.
    Once you get in for help, and request your paperwork for disability.....contact your local Disabled American Veterans office in your area. If you need help finding one, let me know as I am a member of the Ladies' Auxiliary and can get you the number for every county in every state. Each chapter has at least one service officer that helps you with your disability paperwork. Most have 10 years to 25 years and know each and every in and out of the VA and their BS. Call, make an appointment and they will help you with your packet and be a representative for you. They can let you know what to sign, what to ignore, etc. The VA has pulled out some whoppers on us so far and we were lucky to have the representative to say "hold up a damn minute-no way in hell you will sign this".

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  7. That is what I can tell you from our experience. Also, if you are an Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom soldier, they do have representatives at the VA. Now in our experience we bypassed, but in working with many other organizations and veteran's groups....I have accumulated a lot of business cards and the ones here are very passionate about getting you your fair square. You can try them as well. If you need help finding that person, got a "go to man" I can give a yell to and see what he can find out for you in your area.

    Reaching out is the hardest part, the VA is not going to be easy at all. Don't give up. You've got to be strong and not bend, even when the winds are high. If you need us, you know where to find us.

    Hugs,
    Uncle Sam's Mistress

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  8. Six Thousand two hundred (6200) veterans kill themselves every year...the numbers are rising.

    The Suicide Epidemic among combat veterans is REAL!

    Check the Combat PTSD Statistics in the top right hand column.

    Uncle Sam's Mistress will be posting this comment in several sections in the days to follow.

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  9. I am a combat veteran who has served 3 branches and served during 2 wars ( Desert Storm and Afghanistan). PTSD is very real and affects all of us who have seen action, been in any situation that was life threatening, and also affects our families. It is not uncommon to have the symptoms I have seen listed here. They are pretty common amongst anyone who has had it. We did our duty, and came home with extra that we did not want. the VA should be able to help the process, but until then, rely on your brothers and sisters at arms. They all share your emotional burdens from what they've been witness too and participated in. War is no Joke. Those who have never fought in one cant imagine the hell that is around you. Stay strong brother, Siemper Fi, Hoo-ya, and Siemper Paratus. Always faithful, Always strong, Always ready. We are here for you.

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  10. I know this is an old post, but I just ran across this. Thank you!!! You have put together so elegantly how I feel most days! And many friends, who are military wives, who feel the same way. It's hard some days remembering that your not the only one in the nightmare. And then when you do remember, it sucks even more, because you realize someone else is living the hell too.

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