The United States has gone through two continuous decades of war, and veterans have paid a tremendous toll on mental health. Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety are highly publicized challenges, but traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, and suicide are also significant problems. If you or a loved one are a veteran, you may be overwhelmed as you begin to navigate the world outside the military, the world where you and your loved ones reside after your life of service.
It often takes time for a suffering person to recognize they are struggling, especially with wounds that are invisible to the naked eye. Sometimes family members see it first. The truth is, when one family member is suffering, even in silence, family and friends are also suffering. The situation is lonely for everyone involved. Fear of causing additional harm leads to an environment of “walking on eggshells”.
People who do not have a veteran in their life have never been exposed to the extreme impact of war-related illnesses. A huge portion of our population suffers from invisible wounds sustained during service. They are owed understanding and acknowledgment of an injury incurred while protecting the safety and security of our nation, whether that injury is physical, mental, or emotional.
It’s difficult to know how or where to begin to address a monumental issue like mental health. In the case of veterans, manifestations are numerous and varied. Knowledge is power. It is important for both veteran and loved ones to develop an awareness of the following: