Edmonds Military Wire: Letters from home may protect against post-traumatic stress disorder

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By Michael Schindler

There is power in the written word – heck, there is power in words, period. I am reminded of a conversation I had several weeks ago where a friend reminded me that we are constantly speaking affirmations – and those affirmations are either positive or negative so to guard appropriately. A recent study seems to back this up.

A study took place involving 193 male Army soldiers who had returned in the past year from an overseas tour that averaged 11 months. All had been in combat and most had been stationed in Iraq. All of the soldiers had been married an average of about six years. For soldiers who reported being highly satisfied with their marriage, frequent communication with their spouses while deployed was associated with fewer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, especially when the communication involved letters and emails rather than phone calls, instant messages or video chats.

However, for soldiers who were not so happily married, frequent communication with their spouses during deployment was linked to higher levels of PTSD.

The researchers of this study suggested that letters and emails between happily married spouses were beneficial because they were able to be careful in what was written and supportive and could be read repeatedly. They added that the communication between unhappy spouses possibly had more negative content, which would lead to stress.

The results seem obvious but here is the take-away: You can build romance into the written word and the fact that you took the time to ACTUALLY pull out a pen and write it down displays a level of commitment well beyond a phone call or email.

You can learn more here.

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include  “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.”  He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

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