Join Rachelle Whitfield as she tells us about PTSD: Combat, Civilians, and What the Bible Says.

PTSD: Combat, Military Marriage, and the Bible

by Rachelle Whitfield

PTSD is an acronym that we often hear in the military community.

It stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event. After 25 years of our military being in war or active conflict somewhere around the globe, it is challenging to look left or right and not see someone impacted by PTSD.

Combat-Induced PTSD

While serving as a soldier during Desert Storm (before women were officially allowed on the frontline), I developed PTSD.PTSD: Combat, Military Marriage, and the Bible

There are sounds from the middle of the desert I will never forget.

I have experienced the loss of a comrade.

As a military spouse, I have wept with a sweet friend whose life changed forever in just a moment.

Combat-induced PTSD is real and affects military families daily; I would never trivialize that impact.

However, I also know all too well the effect non-combat traumas may have on day-to-day lives and relationships.

Civilian Life and PTSD

PTSD can happen on the civilian side too. My therapist calls these situations “Traumatic events .”

Child abuse, rape, and domestic violence often come to mind with PTSD outside combat.

If I am being honest, there were traumatic events in my life before I raised my right hand, aligning with the military. Some things caused trauma before I walked down the aisle and said, “I do,”. These things worked together and created a broken woman.

Those fractures left me where certain words, sounds, or feelings triggered me.

This is PTSD.

PTSD and Military Marriage

I know all too well the effect non-combat traumas may have on day-to-day lives and relationships.

Sometimes just being married to a man in uniform who rolls out with just a 24, 48, or 72-hour notice can create a trauma response in a military wife, mother, or child.

Let me explain why.

When I was a little girl, there were times when my daddy walked out the door and did not come right back despite promises to the contrary—those uncertain times significantly impacted me.

As my husband readied to deploy, there was much more to the fights, primarily caused by the fear that he would not return.

I was angry, and I lashed out.

This was a PTSD response from my childhood.

What the Bible Says about PTSD

There have been times when I have questioned God’s plan for me. Sometimes I have even wondered if He even had a plan for me!

To help battle those doubts, I keep three verses on sticky notes where I can see them. In some seasons of life, I keep it on the bathroom mirror, in other seasons, it lives on my computer monitor and even on the dashboard of my car.PTSD: Combat, Military Marriage, and the Bible

When I doubt God’s plan, I turn to Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

If God’s plans allow me to experience a traumatic event, James 1:2-4 reminds me to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” 

Sometimes when I can’t see the plan I struggle to count it all joy.

In those moments I lean on Proverbs 3:5-12 which says

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

Although the Bible does not explicitly address PTSD, we know that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and God has a plan for our lives.

The Take Away

I want to close with two thoughts.

First, I would not have made it through some of those “traumatic events” without these scriptures embedded in my memory and heart. I challenge you, if not these verses, to find the scripture verses that keep your eyes on Him.

Secondly, sometimes extra help is needed. It is okay to seek help. Sometimes I still wonder why I waited until my 50s to get therapy. It hasn’t magically fixed all my issues and problems. But having a safe person to talk to has brought amazing healing personally and relationally. I encourage you to reach out to a professional if you are struggling with PTSD whether it is combat-related or not.

Dear Heavenly Father, You know my fears. You know my insecurities. You know every event in my life that has fed these feelings. Father, I ask You for the strength to overcome all feelings that separate me from You. I ask for you to help me repair any brokenness in my relationships. I ask you for eyes to see you in each situation. Grant me faith to know that you have a plan for me and that you are in every step I take. I thank You for safe spaces to heal that point me toward You as my Father and Savior. In your name, amen.

Notes and Resources

  1. PTSD Info
  2. Click here to see our Month of the Military Child Resource. 
  3. Click here to see our Women’s History Month Resource List.
  4. Click here to see our Heart Healthy Relationship Resource List.
  5. Click here to see our Women’s Empowerment Resource List.
  6. Check out this post if you want a reminder of what our Faith Full Friday series is all about.


PTSD: Combat, Military Marriage, and the Bible