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.”
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