Military Connection: Red Flags for Veteran Families: By Debbie Gregory

By Debbie Gregory


Red flags

Like it or not, military deployments often change people. Many previously deployed service members feel like they don’t fit in when they return. Their social behaviors can change. They might be more serious. This is normal. But there is a difference between changed behavior and alarming behavior. While most families have their ups and downs, military families don’t always have the luxury of consistent time together to gauge what is normal behavior, and what should be addressed by professionals.

After families are reunited, there is often a period of readjustment. While some people may think that transitioning from the war zone to suburbia should be a no brainer, it is not always that easy. It’s not like you can just flip a switch in your head. There are behaviors that were taught and engrained in that service member’s brain that kept them alive, and they don’t forget them that easily.

And just like the service member, the military spouse has to adjust their routine to get by in the absence of their spouse. Military spouses have to play both mother and father to their families during deployments. Upon reuniting, these new routines collide with former household harmony.

Military families can expect some bickering; this is normal. It is common for military families to be so happy to have their service members home safely that they try to avoid fighting at all costs, even letting some undesirable behaviors slide. But would like to help families identify some alarming behaviors that military families should be on the lookout for.

First of all, physical abuse should never be tolerated. If a service member ever strikes a spouse or a child, it should be reported immediately. An outburst that leads to physical abuse could be a symptom of a bigger problem that needs to be treated. Military spouses aren’t doing their children, their loved one or themselves any favors by not reporting abuse.

Threats of abuse and self-harm from the service member should also be considered as a sign that they need to seek counseling. Very often, an affected service member doesn’t want to hurt others. They might threaten or attempt self-harm as a way to make their mental pain stop. This includes abusing drugs and alcohol. Any military family that observes these behaviors should seek help for their loved one.

Military families should also be alarmed if the service member is over emotional or completely unemotional about their family, their service or their futures. This goes far beyond a single instance of crying or not caring. But consistent occurrences of these behaviors could mean that there is something that your service member should seek counseling for.

The military is trying to reverse the stigma of seeking help. The days are over when a military career is ruined by merely seeking help. There are many locations and methods for seeking 24/7 help, including counseling for service members and military families.

The Veterans Crisis Line: 1(800) 273- 8255 [1] or text 838255

Military OneSource: 1(800) 342- 9647

Defense Centers of Excellence: 1(866) 966- 1020; email: [email protected]

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Military Families can also look into local resources in their communities, on their installations, and within their commands. It doesn’t matter where the help is coming from, so long as your families are safe and taken care of.