Welby O’Brien reaches out to families of vets in this intriguing guide, designed for the husbands and wives of those with Post Traumatic Stress.
She does not proclaim to be an expert, although she holds a masters degree in counseling. Her knowledge of the disorder is much more intimate – she is married to a 100% disabled veteran with PTSD.
This reality is what gives the book its strength. Ms. O’Brien’s firsthand experiences while living with a vet gives her a voice that few other self-proclaimed “experts” can hope to match, a voice which resonates with wives and husbands of veterans everywhere.
The book’s format through the first part is in bits and pieces – the author provides a question dealing with a real issue, ranging from how to handle war movies and bad driving habits to more serious behaviors such as physical abuse, substance use, or firearms. In each example, Ms. O’Brien provides real world approaches to conversation, while emphasizing boundaries.
#18. How do I encourage my vet to take care of himself (take meds, supplements, exercise, etc.) without being controlling or a nag?
The complexity of O’Brien’s answer means that “Love Our Vets” isn’t a page-turner that one reads cover to cover in one night, but neither is the Bible – it’s more suited to a few pages at a sitting, with time to reflect on each gem, or maybe even an opportunity to try out some of the conversations that have worked for others in the author’s examples.
In parts two and three, the author focuses not on interaction, but on retrospection: philosophies and tactics that the caregiver can use to approach unpredictable events in the relationship, within the context of PTSD.
The simple passages stand out:
I have been with him instead of trying to fix him.
I can choose to love. I can choose to take care of me. Both are blessings. How he responds is up to him, but either way, I am better off when I love.
The author doesn’t write a free ticket for bad behavior. Things like physical violence, cheating, and substance abuse simply are not acceptable, diagnosis or no. Jerks still come in all flavors, and some of them happen to have PTSD. Welby O’Brien doesn’t hesitate to say that sometimes, it’s just time to get out.
Her ability to address workable solutions to real relationship problems within the context of the disease is pure gold to caregivers.
Welby O’Brien continues her work on her website, and can also be found on Facebook.
You can buy your copy of Love our Vets: Restoring Hope for Familes of Veterans with PTSD here.
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