Returning home from combat can be extremely challenging. Soldiers might find that they can’t sleep or are nervous or angry much of the time. These emotions often strain relationships. The first step is to learn what is causing your loved one pain (as much as you can), and from there, you can work together to foster healing.
What do Veterans Feel Like After Combat?
There are many struggles facing soldiers after they return home. The individual struggles can vary, but many experience some of the following:
- Recurring physical pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can induce vivid flashbacks
- Intense nightmares
- Grief and guilt over losses experienced
Also, servicemen and women are constantly on guard against threats. Releasing that sense of alertness and tension can be difficult, even once they’ve returned to safety.
Isolation and Disappointment
During their time away, soldiers miss family milestones, like weddings and graduations. People grow older and more independent without them. It can lead to feelings of estrangement from family and friends.
Moreover, many veterans miss serving. Military achievements are often exciting and fulfilling, and noncombatant jobs sometimes seem dull by comparison.
What Should I Expect as a Family Member?
Typically, family members are thrilled when loved ones come back from service. But that joy can dissipate quickly. If your newly returned soldier often seems uneasy, you might feel alienated from him or her.
One-on-one time can speed the process of reconnecting. If the returning soldier is your significant other, you’ll need time to rekindle the romance. It could feel like you’ve just begun dating again.
Likewise, children and teenagers benefit from plenty of day trips and one-on-one sessions at home with their veteran parent. That way, they can reconnect with the mom or dad who’s become a little unfamiliar lately.
Try not to take their moods personally. You might find that your former soldier answers you brusquely on occasion. Members of the military frequently bark commands and express blunt opinions to each other. There’s no time for politeness in life-or-death situations, and that speaking style can become a habit. The best thing you can do is return surliness with love – show your loved one how much you care.
A Fresh Start
As a general rule, give your returning soldier lots of space but always keep the lines of communication open. If you want to criticize his or her behavior, do so calmly and constructively. Offer plenty of praise, too.
It’s useful to view your life now as a new one rather than a continuation of your old one. That way, you won’t feel pressured to recreate the way things “used to be.”
Instead, you can embark on new adventures as a family. You can make new friends, try new hobbies and assume new responsibilities at home.
Finally, don’t be afraid to seek counseling or a support group if your circumstances feel overwhelming. Substance abuse is often a repercussion of severe trauma received during combat. Don’t address serious issues alone – there is help for you, your loved one, and your family.
If you are concerned about your returning veteran, or are a veteran seeking assistance, contact Warriors Heart today. You can trust that you will receive confidential guidance and assistance to help you on the journey to healing.