The Soldiers Creed
“I will never leave a fallen comrade,” reads the Soldier’s Creed. A poignant line, long made famous in movies and television, sanctified by those who have served. It’s the holiday season, which means it is as important as ever to ensure that this creed is upheld and that no one feels left behind. Whether it is a fallen comrade on the battlefield or a comrade struggling with feelings of isolation and depression at home, it is on all Americans, both civilians and the military, to learn how make this a reality.
The holidays mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For many, the holidays bring great joy, they mean family, good food, gifts. For veterans and those currently serving, the holidays can mean those things, but they can also mean stress, anxiety, and depression. Veterans who have completed their service or those currently deployed can hardly be blamed for these negative feelings. Family, while well-intentioned, will often ask questions that veterans or current soldiers are uncomfortable answering. Holiday events can remind veterans of time lost with loved ones or friends who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Veterans, especially those who suffer from PTSD, can feel especially isolated from relationships and experiences that they once cherished.
It can be helpful to have a plan. According to Dr. Jessica Grogan, a PTSD psychologist at Veterans Affairs, it is important for veterans to set limits on activities and to communicate with family about any worries and negative feelings surrounding the holidays. These strategies can help limit feelings of isolation and help veterans follow the tried-and-true adage of “faking it ‘til you make it.” Creating new routines, memories, and traditions can help veterans and soldiers create positive new experiences. This is not to say veterans should never be alone. The Centre of Excellence argues it is important for veterans to make time for themselves and do things that they enjoy. This can include going on a run, watching a favorite movie, or listening to good music.
Leave No One Behind
Veterans, active-duty soldiers, reservists, paramedics might have served in different branches, but they are a community, bonded by the common goal of protecting their country. No soldier should have to feel isolated or alone during the holidays. If the holidays ever get to be too much, there are plenty of resources available for those who are interested and for those who want to learn how to help a veteran in need.
For personal assistance, there is the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 and 365 days a year. The Veterans Crisis Line is also available through text at 838255 and online. This is a good resource for friends and family of struggling veterans as well.
For more tips on how to successfully navigate stress and anxiety during the holidays, there is a blog from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
For friends and family who want to take the next step to help a loved one who is struggling this holiday season, Coaching Into Care is a great resource. The number is 888-823-7458 to connect with a licensed psychologist or social worker.
Make the Connection is a great resource for those who might not need or want to connect with a crisis service, but who want to draw inspiration from fellow veterans who have gone through similar experiences.
This holiday season it is critical to learn how to help family, friends, and other loved ones who have served. Leave no one behind.