So today I not only received word of suicide of a Veteran friend, it is also the 10 year anniversary of the untimely death of a wonderful soldier I served with at Fort Benning. (sorry so long-have a lot of my mind today)
SGT Ringer was a wonderful bundle of energy and joy- Her middle name was Joy and she epitomized that everywhere she went.
As I read the tributes my fellow soldiers posted today of her, I wanted to share what her death meant to me.
As a Chaplain Assistant, any tragedy within a unit is when we become more active. As the unit began to grieve, I was coordinating grief counselors, calling post protocol, speaking with additional Chaplains for coverage, and beginning discussions with BTN Staff about Memorial Services. The Unit Ministry Team (UMT) is not able to grieve with the unit, we must reserve ours for later. SGT Ringer was my first (unfortunately not last) memorial service while on active duty.
It was hard in ways no school or text can prepare you for. Speaking with fellow soldiers, command staff, and family about their wishes- trying to accommodate it all while keeping in all within regs- It is rough.
This is one of the situation that has now become part of my constant struggle with PTSD. I try not to talk of it much here, but thought today was appropriate (please, don't think I am trying to take anything away from Ringer or the grief her fellow soldiers are shouldering now). I have been diagnosed with, what has been termed By-proxy PTSD- the optempo of our unit was such that I was in counseling with people ALOT- The exposure to their stories, Ringer's accident, and a cadre suicide have culminated into alot of sleepness nights for me.
People sometimes don't realize that PTSD can ruin your life even while not going to combat- When I speak now, I always say it is post-traumatic stress, not post-combat stress.
Please bear in mind- PTSD can affect anyone, from any walk of life- soldier, civilian- child, adult... Any one can have trauma, and anyone can develop issues related to such.