For 22 years, Shirley Booze attributed her husband’s violent nightmares and depression to “mental fatigue.”
It was clearly more than just everyday stress that was affecting the Army veteran, but Booze had no other way to classify his emotional isolation.
“It was like he was in a foxhole and trying to protect himself,” she said.
Her first clue came in 1994, when she read an article about violence in military families and recognized some of the problems. It wasn’t until 2005 that a medical pamphlet gave her a name for his condition: post-traumatic stress disorder.
“That was a big ‘aha’ moment,” Booze said.
PTSD is the enduring psychological reaction to a traumatic event. While the renewed focus on PTSD in the last 10 years has rested largely on the veterans, experts say families pay a price, too. The Department of Veterans Affairs says “families of veterans with PTSD experience more physical and verbal aggression.”
Little has changed in the seven years since Booze recognized symptoms of PTSD in her husband, Edwin, who did not want to be interviewed.
By Kyle Martin
The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.