For a typical dad, Father’s Day is a summer Sunday afternoon when the rest of the family showers him with gifts and affection. For retired Army Maj. Jeff Hall, Father’s Day is different.
A Father’s Day Memory
One thing that Hall and his family enjoy doing together is watching minor league baseball. They are fans of the Quad Cities River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa. One of his fondest memories of Father’s Day occurred in 2013, when the family got general admission seats to a game, which meant they could sit wherever they wanted.
But a few days before the Saturday game, Hall had a spinal tap. He developed a major headache that wouldn’t go away. The pain caused him to move more slowly. By the time the family arrived at the game, all of the good seats were taken. Hall said he felt responsible and was depressed because he thought he had ruined any chance of a great experience. That was when his daughter Courtney Hall, then 18, took over. She walked right up to a staff member.
“My dad has M.S. and has just had a spinal tap,” Courtney Hall told the River Bandits employee. “He wanted to bring me to the game for Father’s Day but we weren’t able to get to good seats. He needs a back rest. Is there anything you can do?”
The next thing the Halls knew, the River Bandits had provided them with a suite, complete with a waiter and refreshment bar.
The next day, Jeff’s wife, Sheri, and daughter Courtney took him to the emergency room, where he was given a blood patch to help stop a leak of cerebrospinal fluid from his spine.
Now, Courtney recounts the memory by saying “Dad, do you remember when I got you a blood patch for Father’s Day?”
Post-traumatic stress disorder has changed his outlook on life.
“It’s not about gifts,” Hall said. “It is more about us being together.”
Family Support Helps PTSD
Hall said his family has been there for him from the beginning of his struggles with PTSD. He credits their love and support for where he is today.
“[My family] were the life support I needed,” Hall said. “They were the only ones that were keeping me from going insane.”
After his second deployment from January 2005 to December 2005, Hall’s PTSD reached a crisis point. His temper was short, and it was difficult for his family to communicate with him.
“It was full hell in the household,” Hall said. “And I was the one bringing it.”
So, Hall began treatment for PTSD at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center through theDeployment Health Clinical Center in 2008. Through various treatments, he learned skills that could help him learn to accept difficult emotions and situations and move on from what life was like while he was deployed. Letting go of things that are buried inside for so long is difficult for anyone, but he knew that a turning point had to happen.
The retired major said that point occurred in the spring of 2011, when Tami Hall, his oldest daughter, left for culinary school in Austin, Texas.
“I was watching my oldest daughter leave for college,” Hall said. Suddenly, the weight of the grief and pain he carried overwhelmed him. “After the car left and went out of sight over the hill, I dropped to my knees and wept for my daughter.”
Learning to Enjoy Groups
When Hall developed PTSD, relaxing for him meant going off to a hill and staring out into nothing in particular. Going to events or to the movies was out of the question until he could learn to manage his symptoms.
“My kids would want to go to the movies,” he said. “I hated going to the movies.”
It took time, but Hall has turned a corner in his life and can tolerate some outings. Now, he sees that doing what others want to do can be good for everyone.
“Now, they join me on the hill and stare out into nothing with me, and I do things they like to do,” he said.
After Hall was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012, such outings became more of a challenge, but he continues to do as much as he can with the family.
Content Via: DoD
Featured Image – Photo courtesy of the Hall family – DoD