Military Spouses and PTSD – One Wife’s Telling Tale

Written by Diana Veseth-Nelson’s husband wife of retired Army Capt. Adrian Veseth-Nelson

Diana Veseth-Nelson poses with her husband, Retired Army Capt. Adrian Veseth-Nelson and their dog, Loki. (Courtesy photo)

My husband’s PTSD manifested itself in different ways.

I remember Fourth of July at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., when we were all standing outside listening to the band, enjoying the picnic and listening to fireworks. The fireworks bothered Adrian because they sounded so much like gunfire. It made other soldiers upset too, and we all went inside. I thought it was ironic because the celebration was supposed to be for the American soldiers; they couldn’t even enjoy it.

He’d see a can on the side of the road and swerve, thinking it was an improvised explosive device. When he’d go out to dinner with other soldiers, I’d say it looked like a “The Last Supper” painting because they’d all sit there with their backs against the wall. If a room became too busy, he’d want to leave. He’d suddenly become unfriendly or unapproachable. At first, I confused his behavior with depression, or I thought maybe he was just tired. I also couldn’t help but think it had to do with me; I’m only human.

I was fortunate that Adrian was willing to get help once he got back. Once he was diagnosed, I knew we’d know better how to deal with his symptoms. I educated myself on PTSD; I went to his group therapist and reached out to the Real Warriors Campaign for information. But the most important thing I did was listen to Adrian.

After he took part in the DHCC program, I could tell there was a stark improvement in his ability to manage his PTSD symptoms. The program taught him different ways to manage the symptoms. I never thought he would be into activities like yoga or acupuncture—now he’s a convert!

I think because Adrian and I communicate well, we’ve been fortunate. When a soldier comes home, there’s usually a highly-anticipated arrival and perception that everything’s going to be OK now. The truth is, everything may not be OK and getting to that desired state may be more of a process. But in the end, it’s worth it.

We recently moved outside Washington, D.C., and I’m looking to start a support group for significant others, since we’re so close to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other bases. I think spouses need a support network just like service members, especially since some soldiers are not as open as my husband. Some families may have to cope with someone who is in complete denial—being involved in a support network may help. My hope is to lead a group that does just that, provide support to military families.

Diana Veseth-Nelson’s husband, Retired Army Capt. Adrian Veseth-Nelson, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his second deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received treatment through the Specialized Care Program at the Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC). You can find Capt. Adrian Veseth-Nelson’s DCoE Blog post here.

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7 Responses to Military Spouses and PTSD – One Wife’s Telling Tale

  1. Kirame says:

    And the veterans administration is making us wait years to process out claims leaving vets without payment or treatment. see us on twitter VETSFORGOTTEN

  2. Redrahab says:

    May the Lord bless your marriage.  I think it was a blessing you both loved each other in return to understand and seek to enrich your marriage and your life together.  I am sure it was not ease, but with the Lord’s help my best to you both. martha 

  3. Forestpath2006 says:

     Thank you, Diana, for helping families cope.  Some of us weren’t so fortunate and our marriages suffered and failed due to our soldiers denial or refusal to seek help.  Public awareness needs to improve on what difficulties can arise when our soldiers come home with invisible damage.  A covert war continues within them. Often our soldiers personal lives with those that suffered from them being away continues to suffer when reunited because of this private war they still fight.  Bless you for bring your experiences forward to help other very deserving families.

  4. Hill1sn says:

    I think that it is  very important to communicate with your spouse and others. It takes a real Soldier to know that they need help and seek that help. It is always helpful to have an understanding and patient spouse.

  5. Jean Otero-Irizarry says:

    Dear Diana, You are taking on a very important task helping families cope.  Many of of us aren’t as fortunate and our marriages continue to suffered due to our spouses remaining in denial although they have been diagnosed with PTSD.  Spouses too battle the wars too their significant others live every day. May God bless you in your endeavors.

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