Dear Military with PTSD,

Please read this letter completely before making any judgments, as it covers a lot of ground.  I am sorry for what you had to go through that caused you to have PTSD, and am sorry you still suffer beyond war.  I do not take any of this lightly, because my cousin, a Marine, had PTSD from Vietnam.  I have friends with good lives who have it.  Keep in mind that you can win.

When you took the oath of “up to and including my life”, you enlisted your family, friends and their lives, as well.  There are more people in pain than just you.  And now, their lives are as much in danger as your own.

You and they served our country well, but it will never be over for them if they later lose to PTSD or suicide the one person they waited so long to have come home.  Understand that.  It is simple:  without you there, functioning as a part of your family, this whole deployment is a failed mission.

You were trained not to fail.  If you leave, your family still has to live through this, while bearing the scars of your loss.  That also means that you left your people behind.  They don’t wear a uniform, but you obligated yourself to them as family and personal friends, much more than to us.

Let me tell you what I fear.  I fear for a mother grieving her living son, one she cannot find in the shell of the man she sees before her in the shadows.  I fear for the daughter who has to again explain why Dad or Mom is not here for graduation.  I fear again for that same daughter with no Mom to help plan her wedding, or no Dad walking her down the aisle.  The pictures of the days will reflect the loss, and the loss will be relived each time the albums come out, a “gift” that keeps on giving.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to be there for the birth of your first grandchild.  Let the day be fully happy, instead of one of split emotions.  Tell your stories of your daughter or son’s birth to them.  It’s a generational necessity.  That’s what the day is for.  Give your grandchildren a chance to meet you.

It is an imposition to further infringe on you after all you have done for me, but I am going to infringe on you and ask that you go from protecting all of us to protecting your family in the only way that matters.  LIVE FOR THEM.  You still have work to do.  You have PTSD, but they suffer as well, so I’m making a request for them because they can’t even find “you” anymore.  They don’t know how, or even if, to address you.  So, feel free to yell at me.  Just don’t ignore my plea, and don’t compromise the happiness your family is due to have.  The decision is in your hands.

I slept well every night when you were guarding our freedom.  I cannot ever personally repay you for that.  What I can do is pay it forward, and let you know how much you mean to us, but most of all how much you mean to your own family.  They were deprived of you while you were deployed.  Don’t deprive them of you now, especially permanently.  Until you are fully present in their day-to-day lives, you are still essentially gone to them.  How many years do they have to suffer?

You are Military, so I do not expect I will hear any outward complaining about your situation.  In this case, that is part of the problem.  You suffer and die in silence.  It does not have to be this way.  “I do not want to live this way” is a much different statement from “I do not want to live.”  Realizing the difference will save your life.

This is one of the most difficult battles you’ve ever had to fight.  This is, however, a battle you can win.  Talk to someone who will listen and help you.  I thank you for keeping us safe and just want to return the favor…

With prayers for your living peace,

Sue Wood