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PTSD: A Spouse’s Role

PTSD: A Spouse’s Role

Tom Kenney

Firefighters (and policemen also) are very good at keeping their innermost feelings under wraps. We don’t like to wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we don’t like to tell stories about what we see on the city streets – unless it’s in some type of humorously irreverent way.

We seldom let anyone in too close, even our spouses. This is a big mistake. If you share your thoughts with your partner, it will bring you closer together. If you don’t, it will surely drive a wedge between you.

Just witness the ever-increasing divorce rate among firefighters over the last ten years or so. Individuals who don’t deal with stress in a positive manner, such as counseling or sharing with a partner, tend to be at much greater risk of turning to alcohol or drugs as a method of coping

These dependencies have ruined far too many good men over the years. If you need a drink (or other substance) to relax or ‘take the edge off’, you may have a stress related disorder which could lead to serious problems. Get help. Call the Local799-EAP. Talk to your spouse.

Ladies, talk to your man about what’s on his mind. It may take some digging, but the results could save his life – and your marriage. Stress related injuries and illnesses are among the highest killers of firefighters throughout the country.

Many careers are cut short by stress – many times the link between stress and the underlying ailment is never diagnosed. Depression, forgetfulness, irritability, lack of concentration, substance abuse, or dependence are all symptoms of possible stress related issues.The first step you can take, as a wife, is to open up a strong line of communication with your firefighter. I know that this may be easier said than done, but it truly is the best possible way to combat the situation.

I have been approached by many firefighters’ significant others and told how much they enjoyed my book. They tell me that it has given them a new understanding of what their husband has gone through over his years on the department. Many of them tell me that after reading the book they’ve sat down with their husband and have been able to talk about ‘the job’ with a much greater appreciation of what it’s like to be a Providence Firefighter.

It’s important that he feel he has someone he can talk to who understands his feelings. Since my diagnosis, Nancy has been my safety valve. Being able to share things with her has literally saved my career – and possibly my life.


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