CONFESSIONS OF A MILITARY SPOUSE: At Times ‘Incapacitated With Sadness’
by Molly Blake
AOL Jobs, Oct. 24, 2012
Molly Blake is a freelance writer and Marine Corps spouse. She writes about issues affecting military families. You can see her work at MollyBlake.com.
In April 2011, a young Army wife posted a chilling comment on her blog that began, “If you are reading this, you should know that I’m dead.”
The 27-year-old woman continued, “at least I hope I’m dead … it would be awful to fail at your own suicide.”
Army Capt. Michael Ryan McCaddon and Leslie McCaddon before Michael took his own life March 21, 2012 while serving as an OB/GYN doctor at the Army’s Tripler Medical Center in Oahu, Hawaii. Earlier in Michael’s career he had seen extreme violence as a first responder to the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing and later when he deployed for EOD duty in the killing fields of Bosnia-Herzegovina War. He was afraid to ask for help for fear of his career. (McCaddon family)
The woman reportedly received treatment and didn’t kill herself, and her blog post helped put the spotlight on a serious issue: the mental health issues of military spouses.
While there has been much written about the suicide rate among soldiers (in July 2012, 38 soldiers committed suicide — more than died in Afghanistan that month), the suffering of military spouses has received relatively short shrift.
Blue Star Families, a nonprofit where I work, found in its recent annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey that a full 10 percent of military spouses admitted that they considered suicide. The spouse-suicide phenomenon is both underreported (10 percent of respondents also said they preferred not to answer the question) and unexplored.
“There is obviously a problem there that our community should rally to find solutions to,” says research director Dr. Vivian Greentree, who is also a military spouse.
As a military spouse, I’m not surprised by what Blue Star Families found. The typical military spouse is young, between the ages of 19 and 22, and since 9/11, 26 percent have endured deployments totaling 13 to 24 months. That’s not including a spouse’s training, field time away from home and other assignments. Sixteen percent have chalked up to three years of deployments.
• Talking about wanting to die.
• Looking for a way to kill oneself.
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
• Talking about being a burden to others.
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
• Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.
• Sleeping too little or too much.
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
• Displaying extreme mood swings.
The unemployment rate among military spouses is a staggering 28 percent and a whopping 62 percent say that their service member has exhibited signs of post-traumatic stress but chose not to seek treatment.
And since just 1 percent of our nation shoulders the burden of war, it should come as no surprise that stress levels have pushed many to the brink.
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Filed under: Resources | Tagged: Army Capt. Michael Ryan McCaddon, Army's Tripler Medical Center in Oahu, Blue Star Families, Bosnia-Herzegovina War, Dr. Vivian Greentree, Hawaii, Leslie McCaddon, Military Family Lifestyle Survey, Military spouse suicide, military spouse unemployment rate, Military Suicide, Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, PTSD, Stigma, Suicide prevention | Leave a comment »