Monday, August 6, 2012

Family Reintegration Program--One Wife Shares Her Experience

Hope For The Warriors® has created the Family Reintegration Program with Holliswood Hospital in Queens, New York.  The Family Reintegration Program aims to, first and foremost, support wounded warriors and their families by engaging the warrior and their spouse/caregiver in a therapeutic experience that promotes family communication, recovery and resiliency.

Several family members have already attended the program and are experiencing the benefits at home and within their relationships.  One spouse shared her story below:

The Family Reintegration Program at Holliswood Hospital was a fantastic opportunity and one that I believe all families living with someone with PTSD/TBI should experience.  I participated in the program during my husband’s second stay at Holliswood. 

First Treatment
The first time my husband was a patient at Holliswood, I spoke to him often and he would tell me about how he was feeling.  However, I spoke to the counselors only twice during his 30-day stay and I didn’t really feel connected to his treatment.  It was still “his problem” and he was responsible for fixing it. 

Returning to Treatment
Nine months later, he was readmitted to Holliswood in the Military Wellness Program.  This time, my husband returned with a renewed sense of hope and commitment to getting well. 

Aynisa, the coordinator of the Military Wellness Program contacted me, to see if I was interested in accompanying my husband to his intake and then staying for a few extra days for the Family Reintegration Program.  All travel expenses would be covered by Hope For The Warriors®.  In addition, respite activities for the spouses would also be planned.  I enthusiastically accepted the invitation because I wanted to meet the people that would be treating my husband and have the opportunity to interact with other spouses and family members of wounded veterans.

"Living with someone with PTSD can be extremely isolating and lonely. People don’t understand why my husband doesn’t like to leave the house or has problems interacting with people in public or has extreme road rage at times.  I am too tired to always explain it, so it is easier to socialize with women who know how I feel."

Treatment for the Family
On the second day of the program, Aynisa provided a class to all of the spouses about PTSD, symptoms, and behaviors.  It was eye opening to hear that most of the veterans there experienced similar symptoms and behaved the same way.  It was comforting to know that I was not alone in my feelings about PTSD and the responsibilities that are associated with the injury.  During the program, I also had the opportunity to have two individual counseling sessions and two sessions with my husband. 

"I cried a lot because in the five years that we have dealt with my husband’s PTSD, I never felt that I could just release my sadness or frustration to someone that would understand and could help me deal with these feelings and learn to rebuild our life."

The Importance of Respite Activities
The respite activities provided by Hope For The Warriors® were great.  We visited areas of New York City and the outlying boroughs that I would not have known about if visiting alone.  The Hope For The Warriors® staff took us to dinner and to see the Broadway production of Mary Poppins.

 It was great to be able to go to dinner and to the theater without having to worry if my husband was going to be OK or determining where the closest exit or whether or not someone was going to irritate him. 
"It was an opportunity for me to enjoy my time without any other responsibilities.  It is an experience that I will forever be grateful to Hope For The Warriors®."
Home Again
Things now are by no means perfect.  My husband has really good days and bad days.  In the past, it always felt like bad days and really bad days. 

"My husband’s second stay at Holliswood was a new beginning for him and our marriage."

My husband finally accepted that he needs my help.  Whether it be to track his appointments, medications, or whatever he needs, he now knows that he can ask and doesn’t need to be ashamed.  He is committed to continuing his care with weekly therapy and staying current on his medications.  I don’t know if my husband will ever be out of the grips of PTSD, but after participating in the Military Wellness Program at Holliswood, he sees that there is hope and a future as long as he continues to work on his well-being and the well-being of our family.

1 comment:

  1. Society doesn't realize just what these families are going through...thanks to programs like Hope for the Warriors there is just that, hope! We as citizens, owe a tremendous amount of thanks to all the troops who sacrifice every day and to their families who then have to deal with those issues as PTSD and other mental, emotional and physical traumas that are the result of being those warriors. Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us :-)