William Jazwinski didn't know why a police officer pulled him over on April 18. He asked the officer if he had been speeding.
The officer responded, "No, not speeding. Just wanted to stop ya and say thank you for your service."
Jazwinski remembered the bumper sticker on his vehicle that identified him as a member of the military and began chatting with the officer about his military service.
Jazwinski had served 15 months as a heavy wheel vehicle operator in Iraq. Now home, he had just completed a post-traumatic stress disorder program and kept the folded U.S. flag he received from the military on the dashboard of his truck.
It was this flag that prompted the officer to open up about the real reason he had pulled Jazwinski over.
The officer told Jazwinski that he had been sent a flag in honor of his son who was in the military as well. He said, "My son went to Iraq. He didn't make it home."
The police officer continued, "You remind me of my son. I pulled you over. I thought you were him. I still don't believe it most days he's gone."
The officer then asked Jazwinski, "Do you mind stepping out and receiving a hug?"
Jazwinski admits that this hug was something that not only the police officer needed, but he needed, too.
"With tears in both our eyes I got out and hugged that man. I'm talking about for a minute or two crying. Down to our knees crying. I needed that."
Jazwinski concluded his Facebook post with these words:
"To all the family and friends of soldiers, fighting or done fighting, God bless you. Your peace and your hearts. It's so hard without them, I know. This road is a tremendous one. Love to all."
It can be hard to know how to help someone dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Whether they are handling trauma associated with the loss of a loved one or the effects of war, it's important to be educated about ways to give them the support they need. Here are some tips to get you started, but we recommend getting further education from a class or the National Center for PTSD.
Trauma can be triggered by locations, smells, anniversaries, etc. Learn what these triggers are for your loved one so you can be aware of situations that could affect them. Likewise, know what the signs that come from your loved one are. For example, does he clench his fists when he hears a certain sound?
Often, they just need you to genuinely listen to them. Don't discount what they say with phrases like, "It will be OK," give unsolicited advice or take over talking of your own experiences. Simply give them your undivided attention.
There are many ways you can go about recreating a safe environment for your loved one. For example, structure routines, make and keep promises and express support.
Caring for your loved one may take a lot of effort, but if you are neglecting yourself you won't be able to give them the support they need. Make time for yourself, rely on other people you're close to and set boundaries for yourself.