They Get Used To It…

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.                                            John 15:13

Or so they say. I treat a lot of clients who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Briefly, the most common understanding of this disorder is that people who have been exposed to significant traumatic events are prone to be affected in a negative way, and we have diagnosed this as PTSD.

Earlier this century, this phenomenon was identified in soldiers who fought in World War I. The phenomenon became known as “shell shock”. There was good reason for that since high explosive shells were used extensively in that war, not only for their destructive power, but for their intimidation effect. The constant and deafening roar of the explosions caused soldiers to literally become psychotic. Many never really returned to reality. Their system had been completely overwhelmed.

When World War II came around, the term then became “combat fatigue”. Constant exposure to violence, and threat of violence, as well as the experience of seeing people die all around one caused the reaction.

When the Vietnam War came in the 60’s and 70’s, a new term appeared- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since then, we have come to understand that the definition of PTSD has been expanded to not only those who are victims of violence and threat, but those who are witness to such devastations.

Front-line first responders are, by definition, potentially diagnosable with PTSD.  Even though most first responders would shrug off the label, they nonetheless are affected by those traumatic events which they encounter.

We expect that those servants will continue to serve others despite the trauma they witness. So do they. Those first-responders will say “It’s part of the job, we just keep on”. And they do. But it comes with a price.

So, to our first responders (including my beloved two children who are in the very center of trauma every day), I say thank you. There cannot be love without sacrifice, and they show their love through sacrifice every day.  

Prayer: Lord, protect those who protect us every day, Amen

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