Bruce C. Solomon, the St. George Vet Center readjustment counselor, is a Vietnam War combat veteran who has some practical advice for anyone wishing to thank a vet for his or her service. He also understands that people are well-meaning and may inadvertently say something wrong. Learn more in his interview of a kind thank you to a vet.
He has a Master of Social Work and has practical real life experience in dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). He wants to help combat veterans manage the effects of PTSD and their families have the knowledge of what to do and not to do, to support their loved one.
Solomon said for a returning combat vet, he or she has had to numb themselves during this 12 month time of seeing horrific visuals and surviving a war zone, which leads to a difficulty to trust, be open or vulnerable when they return home. Vets avoid areas of home life because of PTSD such as: attending an amusement park with noise or a child's school program with crowds and dim lights.
How does one explain that everything is wrong? Solomon described the difficulty of articulating these feelings with words.
"These avoidant behaviors get locked in stone, they carve the disorder in stone," Solomon said. "So you have complete areas in your life that are never open. And through treatment, we can send them into what is called "in vivo" experience, which is to take on the barrier. Don't crush through it, but instead of stopping at the first blush of discomfort, go to the next level. Then come back and let's talk about it. That's my mission is to open lives again."
Solomon describes the estrangement and isolation a vet experiences when 'coming home' doesn't have clear rules. The Vet Center is here to help provide support groups and personal and family counseling to give information and knowledge of how to help combat vets and their families. He advises that it is never too late in deciding to deal with PTSD. Other veterans can pass along their experience to help younger vets avoid the same missteps.
Solomon's goal is to bring the wounded back into their lives--back home to enjoy their friends, spouses, children and richness of life.
For more info, call the St. George Vet Center at (435)673-4494.