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Shattered Lives: Soldiers who suffer from PTSD - Part 3

Interview between Carol Roach and Teila Tankersley continued

war veterans with PTSD
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

What was the breaking point?

In 2009, it became quite evident that our son had a problem, a problem too big for any of us to solve on our own. He called one night around midnight and that phone call lasted nearly two hours. He had lost track of reality and he was incoherent. Those phone calls began to happen more and more. Thankfully we have a very supportive family; he’d call his uncle, his sisters and my husband and I, in some of his darkest moments.

His wife did the best she could trying to console him and to rationalize with him, all to no avail. She reached out for help, but help would not come soon enough. Our son was exhibiting all the symptoms, but it took experts to diagnose it and medications to treat it.

How did the military respond?

The lasting impressions that war left on his mind came back to haunt him more and more. He learned to cope by dulling his reality with alcohol. His drinking problem had become out of control, he nearly lost his life a time or time and was ordered to go through rehab, not once, but two and three times. When he’d be released, everyone had high hopes that things would once again be okay, but that was the furthest from the truth. Instead, his medications multiplied, his home life became more and more stressful.

I called his Sergeants and Commanders for help. The pressure was on and Jeremiah was told he could face a dishonorable discharge, but, in view of his service, would be granted a general discharge under honorable circumstances. His military career was over, but at least it had seemed that the rehab had been successful,

Jeremiah went without a single drink of alcohol for nearly 8 months following his last stay at the military rehabilitation hospital. But, instead of being dependent upon alcohol he was now dependent upon 8 to 10 prescription meds.

He was discharged from the military with a sack of prescription medications, but three months later when they began running out. Jeremiah, his wife and his parents all tried to get him an appointment with the VA to renew these medications. They family left messages, tried their best, but their calls went unanswered.
During this time he had enrolled himself in lineman's school. By day he was a student, at night he spent his time stressing. He was focused too much on just keeping his mind stable that he was unable to be the husband or father that he needed to be.

He began avoiding sleep as much as possible, afraid of the nightmares. It all became too much, his prescription pills were now gone and he had begun self-medicating with marijuana. But, the marijuana did not take away the panic attacks and the dreaded nightmares and that is when he turned to heroin. He somehow managed to graduate from lineman's school, but he had become a walking zombie and his life was quickly spiraling out of control. At one point he told his father, that it was like he was sitting outside his body watching his life. His family watched helplessly, they turned to the VA for help and all they got were prerecorded messages.

If you or your family is struggling with PTSD, know that you are not alone. If you are in a crisis you have options: Call 911; Go to the nearest Emergency Room or Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Please refer to the original article for more information.

to read part one of this series click here:

to read part two click here:

Interview with the Teila Tankersley with permission to reprint her story.

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