When servicemen and women return home from deployments they often have a tough time readjusting to everyday life.
The constant urgency and need to be on high alert in a conflict zone soon gives way to the monotony of buying groceries or meeting with your child’s teachers at school. The slower pace of being back stateside, coupled with the safety and security of home life, can sometimes be liberating. However, haunting memories of the sights and sounds of war can hinder personal progress when veterans don’t have an emotional, spiritual, or even an intellectual outlet to help them refocus their energies and reset their lives.
According to the Washington Post, as of December 2013, an average of 22 military veterans committed suicide every day in the United States, a rate that still remains high in 2014. Psychiatrists and physicians have reported that many Armed Forces personnel returning from combat operations often deal with posttraumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and the physical and mental pains that can sometimes lead to high rates of substance abuse. Though the wounds of war can never truly be forgotten; conversation, counseling, and creativity can help the healing process.
Case managers and staff members at ARVets are dedicated to improving the overall quality of life for veterans and their family members. On any given day, veterans enter our office, we listen to their concerns, offer friendly guidance, and if we see they could use additional support due to mental health issues we refer them to important agencies that can provide comprehensive care. The Little Rock Vet Center, Little Rock Community Mental Health Center, and Professional Counseling Associates, Inc. in North Little Rock are all central Arkansas entities that have provided crucial services to ARVets clients. A veteran who lives in another part of the state is usually referred to a clinic or introduced to a support network of agencies that is closer to his or her home.
What was once considered normal is never the same after being away from home for an extended period of time.
Seasons change, babies grow, relatives die, spouses find a new routine, and the look of some neighborhoods becomes unfamiliar. Adjusting to so many differences can be stressful, but veterans must remember that there is a silver lining in the midst of life’s storms. Substance abuse and suicide never solve problems they only create more heartache and pain. You can seek support from family and friends who love you or get help from professionals who are willing to listen to your deepest thoughts and never judge you.
Loved ones, who see their veteran struggling to adapt to civilian life, need to understand that intervention is the best form of prevention. If a veteran in your family seems emotionally distant and vulnerable, then be willing to ask them the tough questions, encourage them to get involved with team-building activities that can remind them of the camaraderie they experienced in combat, but also care enough to sometimes give that veteran the space that he or she may need to personally grapple with tough emotions. Lastly, we all must remember that family, friends, churches, civic organizations, and local veterans groups can be a line of defense in the battle to protect and serve our men and women in uniform who gave so much of themselves to ensure our freedom.
Military OneSource: Visit their website or call 1-800-342-9647
Military and Family Life Consultants: 501-215-0895 or 870-530-7294
National Guard Family Assistance Center: Visit their website
The Arkansas Yellow Ribbon Program: 501-212-4098