Author: Dr. Frank P. Gonzales is a clinical psychologist for the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2).
We’ve all heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But what about the flip side of that saying, “If it’s broke, fix it”? We know things break, for example: cars, water heaters, and even computers. In fact, we pretty much expect that eventually most everything will need to be repaired. It’s a fact of life.
We humans are no different. We accept that injuries and illness will occur… and when they do we take steps to elimiate the effects. We do this by seeking out professional help and allowing our bodies to rest in order to recuperate so we may continue to function at our best.
When it comes to our mental and emotional well-being the same care should be sought after. While deployed you may have been exposed to combat experiences that made an impact on you mentally or emotionally. These impacts are known as “psychological injuries” and are normal following a traumatic circumstance – just as physical injuries are following a bodily trauma. However, for many of us, it’s easier to admit that we have a broken leg than it is to acknowledge that we have a psychological injury.
During a deployment to a combat zone you may have performed under extreme circumstances while keeping your composure. This is the emotional “blunt force” that can lead to a psychological injury. Keep in mind that this psychologocial injury is just as real as a broken leg but it can be more debilitating than a physical injury.
I want to emphasize how important it is to seek out help if you are experiencing any kind of psychological injury. Think of it as having a broken leg… you are being prevented from performing at your best. Seeking help now will allow you to get back to your optimum functioning self, sooner rather than later. As a service member, why not take advantage of the counseling and behavioral health resources that are offered through the Veterans Administration? If you are not ready to seek out help, check out the workshops we offer here on afterdeployment.org, after all you deserve it.