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April 2014 Print Issue

Donald Ethell says often wives experience negative effects

Donald Ethell says he's aware that the traumatic events of his life as a soldier left him with troubling thoughts and emotions, which triggered bad behavior. Ethell, Alberta's Lieutenant Governor, says that behavior hurt not only him, but his wife, Linda.

While most people are familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he says there's another layer of PTSD that people are unfamiliar with that affects family and friends of soldiers suffering from the disorder. He calls this "secondary PTSD."

Ethell, who became the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta in May 2010, joined the Canadian Army in 1970 and spent many years working to protect his country. He served in Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Central America and the Balkans. He saw people hung off wires and men run over by tanks, among many other tragic events that stuck in his mind, which is why he is advocating for more PTSD awareness and treatment.

According to familyofavet.com, the spouse of someone with PTSD often thinks they have the power to fix the problem for their partner. The website indicates that this is often not the case and that the person struggling with the disorder will likely need to undergo intensive treatment.

Ethell says a combination of counseling and medication has helped him immensely to find peace with himself and his family.

For more information on support for loved ones with PTSD, visit the following websites:

Military Family

Gift From Within

Stripes

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