As a Red Cross military services employee and a reality TV junkie, I was pumped when my two worlds collided during this week’s episode of “Catfish.”
No- “Catfish” isn’t a fishing show or MTV’s version of “Duck Dynasty.” It’s a reality show in which an adorable, perky, hairy-chested documentarian (Nev) and his Anderson Cooper-esque silver fox filmmaker friend (Max) buddy-cop across the country to help long-term online couples meet for the first time.
Nev and Max are contacted by the Catfished person, who has been trying to get the other person (the Catfisher) to videochat or meet face-to-face. Somehow in this Facebook, Skype and @JetBlueCheeps age, it’s actually a thing that people believe Catfishers that there is no way to meet.
Nev and Max do some intense P.I. work (well…actually…mostly just a Google and Facebook search) to try to figure out what the Catfisher is hiding. They then bring the Catfished person to meet the Catfisher, who pretty much always is drastically different (age, looks, gender, economic status) than their online persona. This week’s episode was shocking because for pretty much the first time ever, the Catfisher was not lying!
22 year old Jesse told Nev and Max about her online boyfriend, Brian, a 27 year old Marine veteran, who she has been talking to for years. Like in many episodes, Jesse and Brian had planned to meet before, but Brian (the Catfisher) didn’t show up.
Nev and Max investigated Brain online, and they were surprised to find that they really thought Brian was telling the truth about who he is. They even met with another Marine who served with Brian. This friend told Nev and Max that he had suffered from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), causing short term memory loss, and that Brian suffered from similar problems. Was this a clue as to why was Brian hadn’t met Jesse?
Nev and Max finally bring Jesse to meet Brian, and Brian confesses to Jesse that he didn’t show up that day they were supposed to meet because he had a serious war flashback.
It hit me…it was just like I was there in Musa Qala, Afghanistan. It was just like I ran over an IED, and…the dust was clearing… I was switching in and out. Like, I would look at my side mirror, and there would be Afghanistan. But then I’d look around, and there’s people walking around the gas station, and I couldn’t decipher between what was real and what was fake. …A guy that was actually there was concerned about it, and he was asking me, ‘Buddy, are you okay?’…The guy actually called the cops.”
After that incident, Brian had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and started going to counseling, and he is now doing much better after seeking help. He had been nervous to meet Jesse because she did not know if she would accept him, but she did!
The Blue Star Families (BSF) Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey states that 23% of their service member respondents report PTS symptoms. It is extremely common and serious. PTSD is also often linked to suicide, and 18% of the BSF survey respondents admitted having considered suicide.
It takes a warrior to serve our country, and it takes a warrior to seek help for themselves and their families. Contact your local Red Cross to see how we can help:
- Coping with Deployments: Psychological First Aid for Military Families is a course offered online or in-person.
- Reconnection Workshops are in-person, small-group meeting that focuses on helping service members and their families after a deployment. Topic areas include: managing anger, supporting children, building communication, reconnecting with others, and recognizing PTS & TBI.
- Call the American Red Cross military services Emergency Communication line 24/7 at (877) 272-7337 for any military family emergencies, including any suspicion of suicide.
You can also call, text or online chat with the Veterans Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
Thank you for your service, Brian, and thank you for sharing your story of strength and resiliency! (And thank you Nev and Max for being adorable as always!)
Photos by MTV