Veterans Mental Health
By Andrea Schramm, MA, LPC
I’ve been thinking about this month’s topic for our November blog as this month, the month of November, is when we honor and celebrate our Veterans who have given so much to all of us through their service to our country, many have given their lives both in and out of conflict. It’s a huge topic.
I am not a Veteran so my experience is uniquely civilian in scope. I am the wife of a prior Senior Master Sergeant and 25-year Veteran of the United States Navy and Air National Guard and the mom of a prior Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. It is from these roles I have come to understand the significant and unique differences between our experience as civilians and those who have served in our military.
I remember when my son returned from serving in the Marine Corps and despite having been in constant contact with him, visiting him at Camp Pendleton may times and meeting his close buddies in the Corps, I realized I struggled to understand the unique experience he had while in the Marine Corps.
Each of us is unique in our experience and although may be common with those close to us, they are our own and this can feel isolating even amongst those we shared our experiences with. One thing I learned which I found helpful is the core purpose of those serving across our military branches is the goal of “Mission Ready.” Our service members train constantly and this is the single experience they have with each other outside of what is uniquely their own. Their training is constant in support of their ability to be ready to engage at any moment with their mission in our defense. It is also a mind set each and every service member internalizes. In order for our service members to do their unique job, they must be mission ready at all times. The United Nations offers this guide for Mission Readiness and Stress Management. I encourage you to take a look at the process of deployment for our service members whether in training missions or in combat missions.
How can we support and understand the mental health needs of our service members and Veterans? I can offer a few experiences of my own having had to adapt to something I had no knowledge of myself.
We can be active participants in helping our Veterans stay in touch with those they have served with. Watching how incredibly important it has been to maintain contact with those they have served with within my own home, this is a significant investment in our Veterans mental health and well-being. If you know a Veteran, take the time to ask them about their buddies they have served with and encourage them to remain in touch. This is an incredibly significant support for our Veterans. Consider involvement with an organization such as Make the Connection that connects Veterans and families through their experiences.
We can ask to hear and listen to our Veterans stories. Not all Veterans want to share their experiences, however, we can still ask and tell them we want to know about their experience serving in our military. Tell them how important they are to you and how much you want to share in their experience. Talking about something can be very helpful for a person’s mental well-being and fosters the very important connection between those who have served and their families and the greater community in which they live.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!