Recently, I’ve been re-reading Back From the Front—Combat Trauma, Love, and the Family, by Aphrodite Matsakis.
I became aware of her work way back in the late 80’s when she first published Vietnam Veterans Wives. I’ll never forget the shock and excitement I felt when I found the book in a bookstore. I remember thinking “Finally. Someone knows that I exist!”
That book was priceless to me, and has helped in my education of PTSD, as well as in my recovery. The fact that Matsakis published the book, helped me to feel somewhat “validated.” Up until that time, I had felt invisible and alone.
I believe she is a national treasure. She has worked with combat vets and their families for many years and her insights are amazing.
In Back from the Front, on pg. 439, she offers advice for the significant others of combat vets.
- Do not tolerate abuse of any kind. Under no circumstances should your veteran’s difficulties be used as an excuse for emotional, physical, sexual, or economic abuse of you or anyone else.
- Educate yourself. Knowledge is power. Learn all you can about PTSD, clinical depression, dissociation, addiction or whatever type of traumatic reaction and symptoms your loved one is experiencing.
- Develop a support system for yourself. There will be times when your vet will not be emotionally or physically available to you. Hence you cannot make him the only source of affection, companionship or affirmation in your life.
And always try to remember. Your veteran is important, and so are you!
I hope all of you will become familiar with Matsakis’s work. She is one of the most knowledgeable psychologists working with combat vets and their families. She has been in the field for over thirty years and has many trauma-related titles available.
I have been studying PTSD for many years, and I still continue to learn about this most complex of illnesses. Experts like Matsakis can teach us so much! Her website has listings of all of her books, plus many wonderful, insightful articles.
Check out her website for more information: