PTSD sufferers’ pain shared

�PTSD can be from a primary trauma event in war or in normal service, but for their families it can come from years of having to walk around on eggshells to cope with the primary sufferers� condition,� Partners of Veterans Association WA (PVAWA) secretary Kerryn McDonnell said.

The 2003-established group of about 100 volunteers gives PTSD sufferers� wives and husbands support, welfare and advocacy, runs public education seminars and will try boosting its limited annual budget by shaking tins in the Murray Street Mall on Friday and Fremantle on Saturday.

�We�re quite happy to talk to anyone with a partner from any conflict, armed or emergency service, as we don�t want anyone to walk in our shoes,� Mrs McDonnell said.

PVAWA expects a greater need for its work as more than 60,000 Australians from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars return to civilian life.

�They will go through PTSD, they are going through it, and there is more help now, but there is still the stigma of saying you have PTSD in the armed services,� Mrs McDonnell said.

She said PTSD�s effect on families could take years to witness because many new veterans had yet to get married.

Last week, PVAWA counselled a mother whose veteran son had filled his home with junk and torn up floorboards for barriers in the garden.

Mrs McDonnell said coping with PTSD could cause wives and children to become secondary sufferers resorting to alcohol or drugs, having relationship breakdowns of their own and suicide.

PVAWA volunteer Sandra Cross was at her Vietnam veteran husband�s hospital bed for days after he splashed chemicals in his eyes several years ago.

�I had to tell each nurse, each shift, every day, that you couldn�t cover both his eyes because he needed to look out, and you couldn�t sneak up on him to give him his medication,� Mrs Cross said.

Email partnersofveteranswainc@bigpond.com.