During my work as a therapist, I have worked with a variety of clients from, pre-teens and adolescents to couples and families. One of the populations that is especially important to me is Veterans of the military. I served in the Air Force and participated in operations overseas, which I feel has given me some insight into soldiers, marines, sailors and airman returning home from war. When someone is serving in the military overseas they and their families are greatly affected, but when they are in a combat zone this affect takes on a whole new meaning.
When in combat you have to be hyper-vigilant at all times because that building, box, car, child etc.. could cause you or your fellow soldiers harm. The amount of stress and trauma that soldiers have to deal with in combat is only doubled when they return home. If you have survived a tour of duty in a combat zone it is likely someone you know didn’t. When returning home soldiers can be affected by post traumatic stress disorder that includes; flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia and other conditions. Soldiers also have the guilt of making it home alive when someone else did not.
The families who have waited for their loved ones to return home also have numerous struggles including; how to support their loved one who won’t or can’t talk about their experiences. The families have suffered greatly during their soldier’s time a way as they constantly have to worry if today is the day they have soldiers at their door to tell them he/she has died in combat.
As a therapist and veteran here are some important things to remember for soldiers and their families:
- Remember is that just because a solider is home from war that doesn’t mean the war in their head has gone away. Some of the things a soldier might experience on physically level are trouble sleeping, overly tired, headaches, sweating when thinking of war, rapid breathing and existing health problems becoming worse. On an emotional and psychological level, they may experience bad dreams, nightmares, flashes backs of unwanted memories, feeling guilty, feeling shame.
- They might also be feeling said, rejected, abandoned, agitated, easily upset or annoyed. Soldiers may even feel hopeless about their future and feeling an inability to be happy. Some behavioral reactions that might occur upon returning home include, trouble concentrating, easily startled, being on alert all the time, avoiding certain people or placed and other things.
- Some of the behaviors could be destructive such as drinking to much or using drugs, driving aggressive or not taking care of themselves. As a family member of a soldier the best thing you can do for your loved one is to educate yourself about what to expect when they come home and to think about how you’ll cope. You can also discuss with your spouse how you’ll handle the balance of work, home and leisure time.
- It’s most important to realize that you need to take care of yourself and that each reunion maybe different. Overall, understanding what a combat veteran has experienced and the best way to support them can be difficult.
- They mostly need your love and support to move forward with the rest of their lives.
Perspectives is here to help with that transition to home for your soldier and the family. Connect with us to find out we can help you.
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.