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Trying To Start Up an Online Support Group for Younger Vet's Partners

Discussion in 'Supporter Discussion' started by Lima Tango, May 22, 2006.

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  1. Lima Tango

    Lima Tango New Member

    Trying to start up an on-line support group for the younger vet's partner

    Hello all,
    I have fortuitously come to this site after a number of hours searching. I'm looking into starting up a support group wher partners of Vets who cant come to meetings and social get togethers can meet on-line. I am a member of the Partners of Veterans of Australia and the one thing I noticed was that so few of the meetings were attracting the younger generation. The on-line group seemed to me a good way of bringing some of us together fron all over to chat.
    My vet is Vietnam era but the thing we have in common is that we are all living with the limitations that PTSD thrusts on us. Even now we two are coping with the anger and the depression and some days are feral and others are great. At present things are smooth and Im revelling in it!
    I feel that I am a survivor as we both lived with this condition without knowing it existed and that he had it. It's been so much easier now we know.
    Hope to hear from any of you.
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

    Hi Lima Tango, and welcome to the forum.

    An online support group sounds great for the spouses. This forum caters that already, well basically, caters all partners. What exactly are you planning in a method of support online? I am actually looking at expanding certain functionality of this forum, and if you would simply like to build off this forum as it is established, I am more than willing to help you out.
  4. Lima Tango

    Lima Tango New Member

    Thanks Anthony, I'll just gather my thoughts and get back to you very soon.
  5. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

    Welcome Lima Tango,

    That sounds like a great idea. My husband is Anthony, so I am the partner of a veteran and am also a veteran myself although I don't have PTSD. Thank god, one of us in the house is enough. Partners of Veterans is a great support group but like you have identified it is difficult for the younger partners to get to meetings (etc). I still work full-time, have a young toddler when I am not working and am studying part-time. I guess that's what precludes us from attending meetings and functions, simply we have the commitments of younger families or younger lifestyles which is a milestone many in the PVA group have long passed.

    I am hearing you about the feral days, I just wish they would be a lot less and the great days were more.
  6. Lima Tango

    Lima Tango New Member

    Hi Kerrie-Ann,
    It's good to have my feelings confirmed about why the PVA is finding it difficult to reach out to the younger demographic among the veterans community. Need to go right now, so will continue this tonight.

    It took me a long time to begin to get a less dramatic take on the feral days. It always seemed so personal, that I was to blame. The guilt was crushing and then the anger and resentment followed. The first thing I learned, and it's still hard to do at times, was to stop feeling guilty, to stop taking the blame. I'm working very hard on approaching all dramas with less emotion. Success rate....60/40, so I am finally getting somewhere! And we've been married for 32yrs this Oct. As a good friend said to me,'Guilt is the most destructive of all emotions.'

    I have a quantifying game I play with feral days. I chart them and with the advantage of the overview, liberally seasoned with the advantage of hindsight, I can see good days definitely outnumber ferals 7/1.

    I well remember the career/young mother/housework/feral days scenario so vividly. Our boys are now 31 & 30, I have 2 g'kids and our boys still say they love us. Can't ask for more than that.

    Cheers Lima Tango.
  7. Lima Tango

    Lima Tango New Member

    Hi Anthony,
    My overview is this:
    - Historically, when veterans returned suffering from war related stress (PTSD) they found support from within, from both family and community. Now families are scattered and communities are no longer what they used to be. We don't have the same opportunities to learn from those that went before. This means much more isolation in today's world and limited access to that 'Shoulder-to-cry-on', An on-line support group could rebuild some of this important and useful community support.

    - This community concept allows greater flexibility and reach which fits in beautifully with todays electronic communication system. Voila, instant and far reaching impact.

    - The very act of communicating with like minded people who understand is so cathartic in itself. No one understands the veteran's experience like another from the veteran's community.

    So, is there a need to dedicate a specialised forum section for the veteran and their partner to discuss issues particular to them? What do you think?

    Lima Tango
  8. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

    I think this forum pretty much covers it already LT from how I see it, as there are some communities already online for veterans only, and quite honestly, from what I have seen, they actually are not actively helping those veterans and spouses with the problems of PTSD on return, because spouses get told to shutup by veterans, and veterans all hangout and chat military, none of which gets to the core of the problem.

    I am more than happy if you just use this place as it exists now, as I believe it will do more good for veterans, ie. in mixed PTSD surroundings, thus it opens their eyes to the overall issue of PTSD, and strips them of self absorbtion over military related PTSD.

    I have looked, and chatted on some boards that are military orientated only, and was far from impressed with the overall responses that where given, ie. chat oriented back to military tactics "get over it" "have another beer" etc etc... all of which do not help a veteran and partner if they want to actually get better, not worse.

    I think a possible solution would be to make something similar to what I have here for those with PTSD, which is a hidden forum for only those who suffer PTSD. I could do the same for spouses only, so their partners cannot see what is being discussed with other spouses, ie. giving them a bit more confidentiality to open up to other spouses. It works for those with PTSD, and just might work for spouses also.

    If your happy to run such a forum, then I can create it here, and you moderate it as per my recent post on [DLMURL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/thread208.html"]becoming a moderater[/DLMURL] here. Spouses are then added to the forum as they indicate themselves within the public spouse forum, the same as what occurs with those who have PTSD. You can then direct spouses to this forum, contact me if you know them personally through PVA, and they can be added into the group to see and post within that forum.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  9. Lima Tango

    Lima Tango New Member

    Hi Anthony,
    Being a moderator of this forum sounds OK though I had envisaged the strength of my help being based on personal experience but I'm confident with research based writing because I've done a bucket load in my time.
    I like the idea of both parties reading the general discussions and also providing a hidden forum for partners as well. I know a lot of vets tell their partners to shut up and my theory about this is that talking about feelings makes lots of men uncomfortable. I think of it as men not being encouraged to develop the language of emotions. I also think that many males find introspection an uncomfortable thing to do too. Given these two things you can see where the barriers to communication and growth occur.
    Another thing, as my aim is to reach as many younger vets and partners, I am interested in your thoughts on how to target this demographic. How would you go about this?
    I know that many young partners are isolated due to circumstances; things like babies, jobs, career and their caring roles all conspire to keep them away from a support network. I've raised my concerns within the PVA on a number of occasions. All I see at their meetings are the Boomer generation and a sprinkling of WWII war widows. I'm passionate about bringing the support the PVA brings to so many of us to a younger generation who can't do lunches or evenings or weekends away. This forum seems an ideal support base.
    Hope I can be of some help
  10. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder


    For the researched writing part, that wasn't really required from that outline within the moderator thread, it was more based that I had no intention of making people a moderator of general chat type forum sections, though I think in your case an exception could be made to run the partners and hidden partners forum, exactly that, from your experience with the PVA, ie. exactly as you outlined, using your strengths in the appropriate areas of the forum, and not to build informational research as a normal moderator would do. I would prefer you utilise your strengths to help spouses directly through here, as it is already established and is building a demographic user base throughout Australia and the world already. I think your experience would help partners no end, and is very much appreciated.

    Targeting the demographics of younger veterans? Well, it is easy in theory, possibly a little more difficult in practice. The problem is, is that those who are already receiving newsletters from PVA, VVAA, VVCS, DVA, etc etc already acknowledge they have PTSD, and are dealing with it. The spouses though, most wouldn't even know, nor probably know that support exists for them also, unless they have actively been involved in their spouses treatment, ie. talking with physicians and counsellors.

    So, where do we start? Well, I guess the best place would be with newsletters that are already established going to relevant persons, ie. physicians, counsellors, social workers and PTSD support organisations. This would be more about notifying the actual people within these positions so they can notify spouses personally, as often the sufferer would not do so, or possibly forgets to do so.

    Quite honestly, I believe there is one main way to ensure National exposure, and that would be to contact the current affair reporters and state a case of growing concern for that of PTSD and partners off, with divorce statistics, growing numbers of cases with increased Australian forces operations, lack of military internal support for those who suffer, etc etc. These type of statistics may raise some interest for the inclusion of this forum to be mentioned for immediate online support with others who suffer PTSD and spouses of PTSD. Exactly as you identified yourself, there was no one central place for support from others within the same situation, hence why I created this place to begin with.

    What my end aim for this place is, is to eventually get enough people together to raise a non-profit organisation for PTSD, where all chair persons are completely volunteer based, so nobody gets paid to run the organisation, which then increases the ability to raise funds for the organisation to use for advertising PTSD awareness, helping those with PTSD during initial stages of financial difficulty, etc etc.

    This type of organisation structure would certainly help in regards to gaining free advertising within major medical newsletters and PTSD industry newsletters and groups. Many marketing companies are more than willing to take on non-profit marketing free of charge, as it becomes a tax deduction for them. I think getting within National radio campaigns on popular stations would also be a conclusive positive to overall awareness of the issue, even though those with PTSD may not come forward, those spouses most certainly may identify with the symptoms and seek help or more information. This would also help cover such many who don't even know they have PTSD, nor know it exists.

    I honestly believe there are more that exist not knowing they have PTSD, than there are recognised. Veterans would most certainly take out a high percentage of this group because so many discharge on return from operations, and from my own personal experience with friends who have done this, I have identified they have PTSD from their lifestyle, habits and attitude once discharged. They are basically self distructing with no understanding why. Huge problem.

    Online marketing is easy enough with a little money to do it, but the problem is, people need to be looking for it, and as you are well aware, most spouses just don't know support exists, or don't even know why their partners act the way they do, because they don't know about PTSD.

    The problem I currently have with raising a non-profit organisation, is I don't know anything about them. I have run my own businesses before, so I know about general business dealings, and I have been on committee's, been treasurer, etc etc within the military non-profit unit organisations, messes, etc, but I don't really know where to start with it at this stage.

    Wow... that was long winded. Had a lot to get out about this topic I guess...
  11. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

    Hi LT,

    Sounds like you and my husband have some interesting ideas to bring support to the younger lot of partners which can only be a good thing. As you well know, marriage, kids, work and financial stuff is just plain hard enough without PTSD added to the mix. It is just unbelievably harder without support. I am lucky in that I have an understanding family, although they don't live close by but I know others who don't have that and have no idea why their lives are such hell. I occasionally talk to people that we met on the PTSD course and I have contacted the PVA here but am hindered by all those things that I mentioned previously. At least online, although it is a bit more impersonal, you can do this anytime of the day or night........particularly when the little ones are asleep......as mine now is!!

    I agree with Anthony in his concern to keep this forum for all people with PTSD and their families - not just the military. It keeps perspective for all of us I think, well it seems to for Anthony and I. Just when we think we have heard it all, someone joins this forum with stories of unbelievable trauma and they seem to get some comfort from chatting to the others online. If this forum helps one family stay together, one couple stay married, makes one person feel better or keeps someone strong enough to help themselves and stay alive then it is worth it. Its a fantastic idea to bring more support online for partners.

    As for the feral days, I like your idea of charting them so you can really see how many bad days there are, as opposed to good days. 32 years of being married to a Vet, bloody hell, never mind giving the medals to the vets - what about their families? I admire the courage of the spouses that stay with Vietnam Vets. I don't imagine war, blokes or their attitudes to emotional stuff has changed a great deal over time. Men are still men and still difficult to communicate with. I would really like to smack it into my husband sometimes that by communicating, life really would be much easier for all concerned. Having said that he does occasionally tell me when he is unwell and my skills at picking up on his non-verbals are also a lot better. That and I too am learning not to take the blame for that which is not mine. Nice to talk to you. Guess I'll be seeing more of you around this forum.
  12. Lima Tango

    Lima Tango New Member

    Hi Anthony and Kerrie-Ann,
    So many ideas put us all 'on the same page' and that certainly makes for fertile ground in which ideas thrive.
    I've always thought that Ex Service Organisation (ESO's) don't do enough outreach activities but sit back and wait for their clientele to come to them. Result- vets with problems are daunted by this as I guess they need that extra effort to encourage their participation. GT's idea re physicians, GP's, counsellors and the like is to coach the approach to their professional bodies along the lines of us seeking advice from them as to how they would recommend we get the message out to vets who may have fallen through the cracks. We could also emphasise the fact that we wish to facilitate communication with their partners too. He feels that this would avoid the risk of them feeling imposed upon.
    The current affairs reporter route is so good and was one I was considering for promotion of the PVA. Coincidentally, I was hijacked by a team of roaming reporters last year wanting a sound bite on the Liberal leadership struggle and Robert Doyle. As I'm a first class show off I obliged. They screened it so the next week I rang the reporter and did my pitch and she was very interested. The PVA have used current affairs programs to good effect as well in the past too.
    Anyhow. I was considering what to say in an email to her and one concept was to point out that the DVA doesn't recognise the partner as primary carer. They give that title to the LMO's. So the vital job that the partner/carer does is diminished by the Dept in charge. We carers on the other hand do all that we do with little recognition. Sometimes my evil and bitter tongue gets the better of me and I opine,' We provide all the primary care for the vet and sex and all for $94.60 a fortnight'. I think the whole way we look at people who require care has to be changed and all must move from the medical model and be more holistic; it's a TEAM effort and all should be consulted.
    As to the problem of getting the young vets to recognise there's a problem, well it goes beyond the individual and can be traced to the culture of the defence forces. Do the powers that be encourage young men to admit to a problem? When they do does the Dept support them or throw them out on their ear? In the Special Forces area many bury their fears for fear of being posted out of a regiment they love. This means that the problem doesn't surface until it's too late to be proactive about it. I think it is not debated enough both within the military or without. Maybe a publicist could get this sort of debate going in the public domain. Something for a not for profit org could develop in the future.
    Which brings me to the formation of aforementioned organisation. What about a STRATEGIC PLAN.
    GOALS:- Short term
    now to 12 months
    -continue to refine the forum to support the partners of vets with PTSD
    -mount a publicity drive to bring this forum to the attention of young vets and partners.
    Medium Term
    up to 5 yrs
    -have publicity campaign up and running.
    - maintain and grow forum.
    - start building organisation
    Long Term
    Organisation established.
    What do you think of this?
    Hi Kerrie-Ann, This is so long I have run out of time to chat long but suffice to say that the thing I find hardest on the really, truly, madly feral days is that GT and I are not only not on the same page as each other, but we can be reading different books, his in Slovenia and mine in Swahili. Talk about barriers to communication! Often we separate for a few hours so that we can re find where we are in the book we both need to be reading; at the same time and at the same pace. Tomorrow I'll tell you a very funny (ironic) story about the game we use to play to re establish smooth channels of communication.
    Cheers LT and her vet.
    PS, GT prefers his book to be in Latin rather than Slovenian too Slavic!!!
  13. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

    Exactly. The good thing is LT, is that I have never marketed this forum yet, and just so you know, I have 9 years background in online marketing. Interesting ha? Maybe its time that I started ha!

    I believe this is where the real weight in exposure lay, in that current affairs programs can identify with the issue, the military and those of us who suffer PTSD, and spouses off, and project an actual image of the aftermath of military active service in the veterans.

    Not sure were your going with that one LT, because when my wife was on maternity leave, she got carers allowance for looking after me from DVA as part of her pension entitlement. Normally she is not entitled to anything because we earn too much money, but when on maternity leave, she generally takes 6 months leave without pay, so that period entitles us to full benefits. The DVA site fact sheet. Is this something different that you are talking about?

    I think the problem here, is that the military are very good at covering their arse, and they are, because I have seen plenty off it during my 10 years in service. I have even had to do it on certain operations myself... where things just no longer exist for the sake of all. Just look at the most recent, with the soldier who shot himself in Iraq, and its said that he did it whilst cleaning his weapon. My arse... an infantry soldier does not accidentally shoot themselves whilst cleaning their weapon. More like, he took his own life because he could have possibly suffered PTSD, trauma or some effect that if he said something, and possibly did, would be ridiculed beyond belief, punished internally by his own so called mates, just for speaking up about his emotions and problems.

    The inquiry... lost from leaving it at the airport! The militar is more than willing to take a little heat for telling people they stuffed up by losing the report or some nonsense, because the attention is short lived, then the media move elsewhere to the newest and more interesting story. The military know this, so they make it look like they give a rats about it, then it goes away, hence so do all charges and documentation of all events. Seen that happen too... even been involved in a little shredding of evidence before under order. The military is very corrupt in those aspects. If something goes wrong, they do their utmost to cover it up, and they have very good people doing that for them in the media departments. Those people are very good at their job. Conspiracy? No... just facts.

    I used to see it all the time in Townsville, with drugs, and events a soldier/s got involved in, and the TV would be saying that 10 soldiers have been charged for drug use, when in actual fact it was more like 30 or 40. Hell, I had 10 just in my trade alone at one stage, which was more than what the media where ever told. The cat incident with young soldiers torturing cats... the media had no idea what was really going on inside, because I knew all of those soldiers, some of which had been under my command previously or where in my actual trade... which was a very small one, so everyone knew everyone.

    Pretty good, though I would probably like to reduce it my more, as in 10 years time, well... PTSD could be rife, which is way too late.

    Because I haven't marketed this site as yet, I figured I would give this a shot first, see how it goes, draw enough interest and hopefully put together a group first.

    Year One
    • Market forum both online and offline
    • Raise awareness and support of PTSD through forum, press releases and articles
    • Focused support for spouses
    • Establish subscription based electronic newsletter
    Year Two - Three
    • Create an Incorporated Association at State level
    • Garnish interest from Multi-level corporations for support and donations
    • Establish a PTSD support network (spouse morning tea / PTSD morning tea)
    • Gap publicity hole that DVA, VVCS, PVA, VVAA, etc have missed
    • Garnish support from National newspapers for advertisement
    Year Four - Five
    • Establish Not-For-Profit Company (gives National scale)
    • Continue to garnish National donation support
    • Fund sufferers and spouses of PTSD within financial difficulty, not covered by other organisations
    • Launch National public PTSD initiative
    What I do find funny though is this press release from the minister in regard to funding for DVA, and the billions of dollars used still won't expose the heart of the problem and get help for those suffering, nor their spouses. IMHO, they are looking beyond the problem, over the top as such, as the core of the issue stems much closer to home through National public advertisement and media (TV, Radio, Newspapers)

    And it gets even funnier, because if the below statement is true, then there will be no need for us to even establish a non-profit org to cover the holes that currently exist, which I doubt will happen:

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