By Veronica Sites
Do we take the best steps in the proper order in the battle of Post Traumatic Stress (commonly known as PTSD)? The words hierarchy, protocol, chain of command are common verbiage among military, yet when it comes to integration from combat zone to civilian re-entry, there are some things civilians in business need to understand, too.
Admittedly, what the military provides in code of honor, dignity, and respect for others – as well understanding rank (knowing your lane) – civilians often lack in appreciation. It would behoove us as nation to get back to the basics of what made this nation strong; God and family.
Working with veterans and being familiar with how PTSD disrupts life, I can tell you that a majority of my clients have struggled with the impact of PTSD and need a little help. I work with many immediately following traumatic events and have come to realize the value of early intervention using a technique called Critical Incident Management. When it comes to prevention of extreme long term damage due to PTSD, early intervention does make a huge difference. Unfortunately, there is a perceived stigma associated at even the suggestion of PTSD. This has to stop!
After traumatic events, there are some normal expectations due to cognitive disruption. It is critically important that we educate ourselves in intervention and approach for different results. We can, and should, be able to recognize those at high risk of developing PTSD, and realize how it affects all of our lives, business and communities when we fail to do so.
What if we considered what we can learn from the value of a “chain of command”?
We would realize that addressing PTSD after the fact is a failure to plan, prepare, and perform for different result. Education would mean more intervention and Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) immediately following traumatic events, so those most at risk could know that events do not define a person.
There is no reason to embrace any stigma whatsoever. Caring for mental health is not a punishment; it is protocol for optimum performance.
Reactive brain function demands attention. When a brain has been neglected, it needs what I call ‘verbal triage’ to disrupt what has become normal so that it can process in a healthy way. The sooner ‘verbal triage’ is introduced, the better off our soldiers will be upon discharge of service.
A brain in a state of survival needs permission to stop, purge, and process in such a way that it actively engages in receiving the “intel” that the traumatic event has stopped. A new, healthy normal can then be established so coping can begin, rather than suppression – which is our natural tendency.
Neglect of these basic needs leads to the “disorder” of post traumatic stress.
Disorder is the result of ingrained patterns of “survival” that are highly reactive and activated by various triggers associated with any combination of the five senses that took in information at an “overload” capacity as the traumatic event unfolded.
It’s time to assess how we approach this battle. The enemy in PTSD is not the need for care. What I have found is a need to implement a preventive protocol that includes training and prepares us to embrace what brings about freedom within ourselves – well before trauma – so we can live in the freedom our military has fought so hard attain.
Let us facilitate healthy “new normals” concerning the battle of traumatic impact on mind, brain and thoughts. Incidentally, PTSD is not exclusive to military; 7-8% of the population is affected by PTSD. It is imperative that we educate everyone in our companies to plan, prepare and perform – aware that when left neglected, unhealed invisible wounds of PTSD impact us all. Let’s change mental health protocol to reflect the realities of successful recovery for everyone TODAY.
Originally featured in The OffBeat Business Magazine July 2016.
Veronica Sites Conflict Resolution Speaker