The National Guard: Always helping in disasters

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Throughout my lifetime, I’ve heard of the National Guard helping out during disasters and emergencies in this country. Flooding, fires, evacuations. Whatever the governor needed done within the state.

Now, they’re helping areas heavily affected by the recent wintry conditions: Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland and other places.

Because members of the National Guard are local folk (our neighbors), we may not think of them as susceptible for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Think of Hurricane Katrina and the horrific flooding, deaths and subsequent state of affairs in Now Orleans. The National Guard was called up.

PTSD happens after some sort of trauma. Flooding, fires, evacuations can be traumatic. Traumas affect different people in different ways.

Those service members have always been here to help us. Some of them have had to help us even when they have suffered loss. Some may hide behind toughness and may deal with their trauma in private, not seeking help.

Some reactions to to trauma are:

  • Fear or anxiety:
    • You may feel tense or afraid;
    • Be agitated and jumpy;
    • Feel on alert.
  • Sadness or depression:
    • You may have crying spells;
    • Lose interest in things you used to enjoy;
    • Want to be alone all the time;
    • Feel tired, empty, and numb.
  • Guilt and shame:
    • You may  lash out at your partner or spouse;
    • Have less patience with your children;
    • Overreact to small misunderstandings
    • Act in unhealthy ways: drink, use drugs, or smoke too much; drive aggressively; neglect your health; avoid certain people or situations;

PTSD has four types of symptoms.

  • Reliving the event (also called reexperiencing)
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)

If you’re in the National Guard and experience any of symptoms or reactions, don’t suffer alone. What you’re experiencing is normal and can be treated. If you have these issues for more than three months, get help.

If you’re a friend, neighbor or just caring person, as you’re tucked in the warmth of your home, think about our home-grown heroes who are out making sure we’re safe. Know that despite their tough exterior, they may need help, too.