I see this woman, every week, usually on Tuesdays, at the Veteran’s Hospital.
She’s usually dressed mid-professional, clean-cut, jeans are ironed, and whatnot.
I am pretty certain she is a veteran. She doesn’t have a hospital badge, I’ve seen her with the elastic around her arm, like they give when you’ve had your blood drawn, and she carries herself like a Marine, in charge of her destiny or her troops…most of the time.
Twice, I have seen her recoil from loud, startling noises, and hit the deck. Once, I asked her if she was OK, and she replied, in a voice that probably didn’t sound like her own, “Don’t touch me!”
I want to tell her, it will get better. It’s slow as hell, but it will get better. I want to tell her, “I’ve been there, still, more often than I have the courage to admit.” I want to tell her it will be OK.
But how do I start this conversation with a practical stranger? I wouldn’t be comfortable if someone I didn’t know said this to me–it even sounds a bit condescending as I type it.
There is a huge need in this country, and probably in others, to have a conversation about how to interact with returning soldiers suffering from PTSD. It’s high time it wasn’t the elephant in the room.
How do I reach out to this woman, this perfect stranger?