Yes, People, the Families DO Matter!

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

The day a person even insinuates that a group of people doesn’t matter is the day they fall into that dangerous, deadly human trap – apathy.

If the family members of veterans didn’t matter, why are there so many outreach efforts intended to give them emotional support? While I’m sure nobody, unless they were being deliberately cruel, would state that vet families don’t matter outright, plenty of people, by their words and actions do hint that what they go through isn’t important.

When a status was posted on social media in recent months about veterans with PTSD, a comment rightfully pointed out that the families go through a lot, too. The OP’s, response was something to the effect of how pointing that out “doesn’t help the veterans”.

Seeing as how the OP has never been in that position that I’m aware of, she certainly doesn’t know what it’s like. Many family members of veterans with PTSD, particularly if the vet also has addiction issues as my late father did, go through their own hell on earth because of it.

Why does this matter? Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:

  • People with PTSD and substance abuse issues who don’t get help do need it – without help, they are endangering themselves and others around them. Sometimes recognizing the hell their loved ones go through is what it takes for them to see their need for help.
  • Just because the spouse (or ex-spouse) and the children didn’t serve doesn’t make their lives any less valuable. To send the message that civilians impacted by a veteran’s trauma don’t matter shows the same type of callous disregard that many of our country’s leaders have for military and veteran families in general.
  • Glossing over the experiences of the families also shows a lack of respect for who the veteran is as a person. To act as though a veteran’s existence revolves completely around their identity as a veteran and nothing else shows no regard for them as an individual. Most do, of course, value their family members and to see others show such little regard for their loved ones hurts them, too.

In a nutshell, it’s safe to say that denying a veteran’s family’s need for help does more harm than good. No person, veteran or civilian, is an island, and true healing can only occur when all sides are considered.

Kids NEED Friends: Veteran Parent or Not

Barrio de La Boca (6923432515)

I’m not a child psychologist, I wanted to make that clear. However, speaking from personal experience as the daughter of a particularly troubled veteran, I can say that a normal social life is crucial for kids. This can unfortunately be very difficult when there’s uncontrolled PTSD or other issues going on.

To start with, I’ll point out a few of the social issues that occurred with me when I was school-age. Despite having a few cousins close to my age who attended the same schools, though they were not in the same grade level, I think much of my family outside the immediate household was in the dark about how Dad’s behavior affected me.

A few things that happened:

  • I was often unable to invite friends who didn’t live in the neighborhood over because I was afraid of Dad being drunk and making a spectacle, as well as my friend’s parents not letting them come over anymore
  • Attending birthday parties at other kids’ houses or otherwise spending time with my friends at their houses was also difficult out of fear he’d show up under the influence and cause trouble
  • The worst, though, was my dad believing that every time I was bullied, it had something to do with his status as a veteran and the fact I was his daughter, when in fact it was typical teenage bullying

Difficult as they are, a veteran’s struggles are theirs, not their children’s to pay for in the form of social alienation. There is no logical or valid psychological reason for veterans’ children to be exempt from socialization.

Some may see what the children of what some combat veterans go through as being insignificant in comparison to what the veteran has gone through. This is unhelpful, as the struggles of a veteran’s child are DIFFERENT, not better, not worse.

What children in these situations do experience in seeing their parent act out is a form of trauma, emotional or otherwise. The National Center for PTSD acknowleges this trauma as being very real and in need of support.

Having friends you can turn to in time of need is important, for all ages. Not only that, but kids who have a network of friends they can turn to will be better-adjusted as adults.

Rather than being part of the problem by treating kids’ social needs as insignificant, be part of the solution by acknowledging the importance of their social needs.

Why a Liberal “Voice in the Wilderness” is Necessary

Woman peace activist from Pittsburgh with sign - Fund Jobs Not Wars - 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

When I set up my Facebook page, I had been realizing just how much healing I still had to do, even though my biological father, with whom I had had a troubled relationship because of his substanance abuse and refusal to get counseling, had recently passed. I also realized that many of the online support group options are too disproportionately balanced towards the conservative side.

The last time I had been part of an online support group, I found the other members nice, but felt as though I couldn’t be as open as I wanted to be because we weren’t on the same page politically. You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells because your thoughts and feelings aren’t “politically correct” for the group.

Some of the viewoints I’ve found, from personal experience, are often sources of contention in majority conservative settings include:

  • The belief that war is, regrettably, necessary sometimes, but not something to glorify or celebrate. Many “hawks” don’t legitimately understand the positions of peace advocates, and by their actions appear to glorify war, although I’m sure the idea is actually as sickening to them as anyone else.
  • An adherance to the Christian “just war” concept, which guides my belief that much of America’s military actions are unjustified. Many conservatives of a Christian background either aren’t familiar with this concept or ignore it.
  • Being uncomfortable with a culture that glorifies those who served to the extent that they are perceived as being above reproach and can’t be held accountable for their actions, even when they harm those closest to them. A helpful hint: religious leaders who are treated this way are considered cult leaders, so maybe this way of thinking isn’t healthy.
  • Believing that, if a country sends its service members off to war, it should provide adequate medical, psychological, and other resources for them and their families when they return. Most conservatives do, of course, believe veterans deserve benefits, but still cast votes for politicians who would take these benefits away from the veterans.

Although I realize that many military families are at least somewhat conservative, there are many who aren’t, or may harbor disagreement with how many conservatives approach our nation’s military politics. By providing a place where these views are welcome, I hope that other family members of veterans can stop feeling as though they’re alone in their struggle, as I frequently felt growing up.

In closing, here’s a song I think many of us can relate to: