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Anxiety Through The Eyes of Military Veterans

November 29, 2017

First, to all of the veterans, thank you for your service!  This blog post will consist of short interviews from two military veterans on their experiences with anxiety. I have kept their names off of the interview for their privacy.

 

 “Anxiety becomes a problem only when it is so intense that it prevents people from doing what they want  or need to do. Anxiety becomes a problem when it is out of control-the person simply cannot stop worrying" (Coon & Mitterer, 2012, p. 568).

 

 

Question: How long did you serve in the military and what was your job?

Answer, Retired SFC, United States Army: “20 ½ years-Transportation Management”

 

Question: How did you come to realize you had anxiety? 

Answer, Retired SFC, United States Army : “ I deployed to Iraq in 2003, but in 2009, I began noticing that I would  get mad over the things that didn’t bother me before, I felt like I was not in control of my anger, I was anxious in big crowds, and I couldn’t  talk about or see war related items. Although I was not officially diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I felt I was dealing with that as well as anxiety.”

 

Question: How would rate your anxiety then and now?

Answer, Retired SFC, United States Army: “In 2009 I would say an 8 on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the worst, and now a 3 or 4.”

 

Question: When it comes to coping, what has helped you the most?

Answer, Retired SFC, United States Army: “having acknowledged that I had and have these experiences, my faith in God, and counseling."

 

Question: Is there anything else you want to share?

Answer, Retired SFC, United States Army: "These feelings never go away but with proper help, they can be well managed."

 

Me: Thank you so much for your time and service!

Retired SFC, United States Army: “You are welcome”

 

Next Interview from Current SFC, United States Army

 

Question: How long have you been serving in the military and what is your job?

Answer, SFC United States Army:  “19 years. Career Counselor and Paratrooper.”

 

Question: How did you come to realize you had anxiety? 

Answer, SFC United States Army:  “I spent 15 months in Iraq, 6 months in Qatar, and 6 months in Afghanistan. Upon my return in 2014, I began to notice small things bothered me such as , road trips, going to the store, etc., and it would last for a second then go away; overtime, the intensity of the anxiety  increased—I went into a full scared paranoia mindset; you take someone like me, who will jump out of an airplane, but then all of a sudden is terrified to go over a bridge. I would feel nervous and anxious to do the small things, which felt equivalent to a nervous flyer. My heart would start racing, and I was constantly trying to make sure nothing crazy was going on. Loud noises would really set me off. The death of family members in a short time period has intensified the feelings.”

 

Question: What is it like now, and  how would rate your anxiety then and now?

 Answer, SFC United States Army: “Now that I recognized the magnitude of what I have been experiencing, I have gone back to counseling. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst, three years ago I would say a 2 or 3; now, an 8.”

 

Question: When it comes to coping, what has helped you the most?

Answer, SFC United States Army:  "Talking about it, getting support from loved ones,  and counseling —unfortunately,  getting help directly through the military at times can impact your career negatively due to the stigma placed on mental conditions, so some seek outside sources; I encourage everyone dealing with this to get assistance. It is not a form of weakness to discuss these issues. Sometimes men can see it that way."

 

Me: Thank you so much for your time and service!

SFC United States Army: "Anytime"

 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (2017), here are some important tips and suggestions for veterans in maintaining a strong body and mind:

      -Reach out to other veterans’ groups. It’s much easier to make the            transition when you’re not alone. Social support from non-                      veterans helps as well

      -Talk to family and friends about your experiences. Even if they              don’t fully understand what you’re going through, it helps them              understand why you may have trouble interacting at times.

      -Search the web for information on mental health and              transitioning. Identify strategies ahead of time to support your transition. Real Warriors(http://www.realwarriors.net) and After Deployment(http://afterdeployment.dcoe.mil)

 

I hope all of you find comfort and are encouraged by this information. 

 

                                       References

Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. (2012). Psychology: modules for active        learning (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

 

National Alliance on Mental Health. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Veterans-and-Active-Duty

 

 

 

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