I took some time to meditate tonight. No particular thought in my head to begin; But I then started to think about some of the things that tend to haunt me from my past. Thinking back "If I would have gotten there just a few seconds earlier, he would still be alive", "If we would have patrolled that area better, the kiowa wouldn't have been shot down right after we left Afghanistan", "why didn't the gun go off when choose to give up"
The alternate world we develop in our heads when we play the could've, would've, should haves of our life time can sometimes drive us to madness. It creates alternate paths we could have taken but often are no longer allowed access to. Which can lead to depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD and in the extreme cases, suicide.
Suppressed memories and underlying issues can be crippling to some. When we were in the military, burying your issues was the only way to move on. One of the main issues in the Air Force Security Forces (defenders) world is the stigma of mental illness. When I was active duty 2006-2012, if you admitted you were struggling, you were forced to go to mental health, stripped of your weapon, and usually put on some bullshit trash detail. Until you were cleared to go. Often leaving defenders feeling like they have the scarlet letter stamped on their face. Feeling like an outcast and ashamed for getting help.
A normal thinking brain would say, "so what, go get help and who cares what people think" let me break this down for you barney style.
I only worked a total of 1.5 years at my home station as Security Forces (base cop) that means I spent over 2 years deployed, 6 months as a pre deployment trainer, and the rest was training to go to war. You are constantly in the fight or flight mode and a lot of us lose the ability to turn it off. If I were to say anything about how I felt, I wouldn't have been able to deploy so much. To me, at the time, deploying to protect my brothers was everything.
One thing that needs to change in the Air Force is the alienation of people that go get help at mental health. There should be no penalty for defenders and other military folks to admit they are carrying too much weight on their shoulders.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GETTING HELP! YOU ARE NOT WEAK FOR SEEKING HELP! YOU ARE STRONG FOR LOOKING OUT FOR #1!
One bit of advice is not to bury your traumas. Become vulnerable to those you can trust And share what you are going through. Reach out to your brothers and sisters. Hell if you have no one to talk to...contact me on all social media any time of day.
I'm not a councilor, I'm a friend!