Monday, March 16, 2009

To Returning Vets: Start Blogging

This morning on NPR radio, a fascinating show on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) interviews doctors and a returned marine who said a hospital stay to get treatment for her PTSD was the only way she could return to normal life. She had worked in an office near an emergency care medical center in Afghanistan, and found herself "closing in" after her return to the U.S., breaking away from her husband and family of origin. After becoming addicted and arrested for drug possession, she turned herself in a second time for psychological care and finally after intensive cognitive therapy is improving.

PTSD is a growing and serious problem for the military. Military hospitals are finding ways of handling PTSD in returning soldiers by screening them for it when admitted.

All military personnel who have been stationed away from their families need to take a while to get reacquainted. Many of them will be fine, but some could fall away because of an immediate lack of structure or peer support after arrival.

Here's my advice to vets: start a blog. Seriously. Many Americans are hungry to know what went on in a tour of duty. Tell everyone what happened to you. Military vets might help themselves by describing their experiences, by thinking and blogging to let people know what their tour of duty was like.

It's a terrific inexpensive hobby and public libraries have computers now. A blogger can publish poetry and a diary of wartime experiences. Posted photos let us all see what happened abroad to help us understand. Several bloggers together can make joint collaborative blogs to share reminiscences and transition to civilian life. And vets in turn might be helped by someone who reads about their experiences.

It would really help a lot of returning veterans to have an immediate occupation by starting a blog, a reason for sharing, and one for which they already likely have the necessary skills, writing and typing. Their world experience will help many Americans learn what the military does. Blogging to inform and educate others can be significantly more useful to vets, their families and their readers than having less productive pastimes. All of America and the world might be reading and taking notice.

Why not start a blog? Most blogs are published either by Google blogger or Wordpress and can be free to start up. Don't let anyone discourage you or talk you out of it if you would like to try. It's a lot more useful than peacetime video games. Why not try? There aren't enough blogs written by veterans, either for veterans or for the general population.

Maybe I should start a local blog association to meet other bloggers (besides the one I've met) or better yet, an International or American Bloggers Association. Anyone interested can email me at shellsey@gmail.com.

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