Veterans Suffering Debilitating PTSD Effects Urgently Require Help, Compassion and Lighthouse Network Offers Suggestions
PHILADELPHIA – For many Americans, Memorial Day is marked with parades and remembrances of fallen veterans from “historic” wars: World Wars I and II, Vietnam, Korea. Less often remembered are combat veterans who have returned home physically safe, only to bravely fight enemies that often go unseen: those affecting mental health. According to Dr. Karl Benzio, local psychiatrist and founder of the Lighthouse Network, an addiction and mental health referral organization offering a free 24-hour addiction and counseling helpline, the psychological and spiritual warfare affecting the minds, emotions, and spirit of returning combat veterans is more traumatic than the war itself.
“Many soldiers will re-experience trauma, either in flashbacks or nightmares. They may be anxious, agitated, or have problems with irritability or rage,” comments Benzio. “These brave men and women often think of themselves as murderers, monsters, or worse. For many veterans, upon returning home and re-integrating into civilian life, there’s a significant distortion of the realities of war. These distortions dramatically affect their view of themselves, God, people, and their present circumstances, leading to many compromised decisions that affect all areas of their life.”
For a growing number of veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating disease that impacts all areas of life. Sufferers often struggle with both day-to-day activities critical to maintaining life, such as eating and sleeping, as well as more normal functions such as holding a job or maintaining key relationships. Many turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of “self-medication” that numbs the pain, or relaxes the agitation or constant ‘on-guard’ ‘ready-for-battle’ defense system only to find themselves in addictive patterns that create new, worse problems than the PTSD presents.
The ravages of war, then the re-traumatization of PTSD, compounded by even more trauma to the brain, psyche, and spirit by alcohol, drugs, isolation, and broken relationships require intensive psychological and spiritual care. Only through God’s power can a veteran make sense of the atrocities of war and start to heal the deep wounds that hurt especially on Memorial Day, as they are reminded of the worst days of their lives.
And while light has been shed on PTSD in recent years, with so many soldiers returning from theaters of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and related areas, society is now realizing that the mental effects of war are more physically debilitating than once thought, impacting the veteran’s entire ability to re-integrate to civilian life and properly care for his or herself. As a result, Benzio urges the local church to be a source of help and support for returning soldiers.
“As mental health professionals with a Christian worldview, we see the mind of “mentally wounded” veterans as Satan’s playground,” Benzio continued. “The devil is the great deceiver who twists the realities of war into something far more nefarious and urges us to take a very self-centered point of view, rather than keeping our focus on the God who can heal us. It is the job of the church to provide not only spiritual support, but to be the hands and feet of Jesus by organizing support groups for veterans and their families, or when possible, by helping with jobs, networking opportunities, or interim needs like food or housing assistance.”
So on this Memorial Day, don’t just honor the fallen. Honor those veterans whose service leads to the daily war against PTSD – with practical help from the family of the church.
To help those that truly struggle with such addictions, or with other mental health issues, Lighthouse Network offers the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Network Addiction and Counseling Helpline toll-free at (844) 543-3242. Lighthouse Network works to guide struggling people through storms to find peace and find answers for people who have a hard time defining their particular problem or have difficulty finding the right answers from other often-confusing sources. Lighthouse Network finds life-changing treatment that altogether addresses spirit, mind and body, concerning addiction or psychiatric issues. Many have expressed relief to finally find Lighthouse Network so that help and healing may begin.
Lighthouse Network recently unveiled its new web site at www.LighthouseNetwork.org, where those struggling can find help for their addiction problems, or family members can find help for a loved one. The new website has more online help for those struggling with alcohol, addictions, and other mental health or life management issues for those who want to improve and grow in their personal development.
Through the new site, Lighthouse Network offers several resources for those struggling with addiction, as well as for their families, including Stepping Stones, a free daily devotional for managing life’s stressors and storms and equipping readers with healthy decision-making skills. Visit https://lighthousenetwork.org/stepping-stones/ to read the devotionals and sign up to receive them daily via email.