Thursday, June 30, 2016


All relationships create opportunities for communications, or no communication, but both words and deeds are powerful and once said or done, very difficult to un-hear and un-see.  Forgiveness is a powerful concept, but one of the most difficult actions and choices to make in life. 

How do you repair or maintain a relationship following harsh or painful words and actions?  Choosing first to repair the schism is important.  And, it may mean a conscious choice to address some painful personal truths.  Many neglect to look inward to closely analyze what may be something you’d rather forget – introspection and bald reality can be difficult to manage.  Yet, if you fail to learn from situations, you are likely doomed to both suppress negative emotions, and to repeat the behavior.

If you received harsh or painful words, it takes a very strong person to look unflinchingly at what occurred and to calmly analyze it before addressing it. It’s easy to immediately lash out verbally in retaliation, especially if the words or actions were unjustified or unfair.

We are all familiar with words said in anger, and despite the nursery rhyme about sticks and stones… some words wound and scar.  Only you can determine the intensity of the exchange and whether forgiveness is an option, but without resolution, you may find yourself bitter, not better.  This decision to repair can be rapid or take years, but it’s worth considering for a calmer, happier life.

Many people cannot or will not deal with conflict.  If you’re one of these, consider how repairing the friendship will affect your life.  Usually, it clears the air, and both people can move forward.  No matter the timeframe, carefully choose accurate, but kinder words to explain how you feel – whether you are the deliverer of the harsh words, or the recipient.  It’s now time to fix the error, not to blame or shame.  This may not be possible on the first try, and you may find that some conversations are not recoverable, and that door must be closed. 

If both people are open to nurturing a relationship after harsh words – which happens to all of us – it is possible to move forward, even without an apology if that occurs.  Respectfully hearing or saying that the situation is now regretted may be enough to begin the healing.  Perhaps the apology is at first a Band-Aid.  But, over time, when forgiveness is applied and the situation is not a repetitive pattern of hurt, relationships can grow stronger than before.

Why is it that as small children we could easily say we were sorry when we knew we were wrong?  Why is it hard sometimes to stand up for ourselves when we have been wronged?  Either scenario is made better with resolution and kindness.

Forgiveness frees and releases the pain and increases self-respect and respect in the relationship.

Linda Kreter & the 
VeteranCaregiver Team

Korean War Veteran Caregivers

All Caregivers matter to us.  And, learning about illnesses and conditions other era caregivers experience helps when meeting another caregiver during a VA appointment or at a veteran event.  Specifically, cold-related injuries and nuclear testing radiation exposure trouble many veterans of this era.

Korean War conditions include some today’s conditions, but the prevalent differences were cold-related injuries.  Frostbite and Trench foot, were major problems during the Korean War.  Veterans of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir had especially high rates of severe cold injuries, and over 5,000 troops required evacuation for the effects of cold injury during the winter of 1950-51.  Many veterans never sought VA help due to battlefield conditions or because their service medical records may no longer exist. 

Long-term delayed symptoms include peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain), arthritis, foot problems, stiff toes, and cold sensitization.  Age may worsen these conditions, and complications such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease put them at higher risk for late-in-life amputations.
Photo:  John P. Collins
Many Korean War veterans may have participated in 250 atmospheric and underwater nuclear weapons tests conducted primarily in Nevada and the Pacific Ocean between 1945 and 1962.  These vets are known at A-Vets or Atomic Veterans, and number 560,000 troops. Approximately 195,000 surviving "Atomic-Vets" alive today may not know that their "oath-of-secrecy" tied to their nuclear weapons testing duty has been lifted, allowing them to now speak freely of their personal experiences.  A-Vets may be entitled to "service-connected" benefits for illness caused by their exposure to atomic radiation particles while on active duty, and benefits are also available to spouses of deceased Atomic-Veterans.

The National Association of Atomic Veterans is a strong resource, and please go to the Video Resource section of to have a larger list of resources mailed directly to your inbox.  We appreciate the caregivers of the Korean War and hope that caregivers of every era support one another in whatever ways possible!

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Plan Ahead with a PTSD Alert Signal

Let’s talk about PTSD and triggers – and a way to communicate ahead of a full-blown anxiety situation.  As you become more familiar with what causes situations to move toward a negative situation, or a rising sense of foreboding, you’ll likely learn what triggers set off you or your family member.  Yes, it’s important to include you in this equation, since many caregivers also have accumulated symptoms of secondary PTS, and the resultant hypervigilance, mood changes, effects of insomnia, and stress.

Working together as a team, a family can learn to mitigate certain situations, such as crowds, loud and volatile situations, including family holiday dinners.  Creating a non-verbal signal puts you and your family member in charge of alerting one another.  Keep it simple, a tap on your wrist, a hand signal or perfect the Let’s-Get-Out-of-Here-Soon glance.  Demonstrating that you understand your family member (or you) are feeling rising anxiety, stress, or discomfort with the situation is helpful and allows you to more gracefully depart most situations promptly.  What a relief to avoid gutting out every difficult occasion! 

Recently, I heard a wonderful follow-up to this trigger signal by a smart and thoughtful caregiver named Lauren.  After these signals are given, departure is complete, when the next quiet moment comes, she and her husband engage in a short discussion.  Either one asks: First, are YOU okay?  Second, is the Situation okay now? And, Third and most important, Are WE okay?  This is a strong team effort that is kind and intuitive.

Take time this week to create your own PTS Alert Signal, practice it until the all feel united and comfortable, then consider asking those three key questions to keep the calm channels of communication open and willing. 

Linda Kreter & the
VeteranCaregiver Team