Holidays not always merry

The holiday season not always merry.

Jeff Lucey’s first Christmas after returning from Iraq was not a merry one. In fact, it brought out his pain. This is not uncommon for the veterans who are still carrying a heavy load of combat memories. Jeff had returned from Iraq to an elated welcome and indeed, he was glad to be back with his friends and family. But as the months wore on he could not simply be happy to be back in his old life. He was different on the inside and without help could not simply reinsert himself and move on.

Many veterans find their civilian lives almost surreal when compared to the stark, gripping, and often life-and-death drama of the war zone. This is not to say that veterans are constantly consumed by this alternate reality. But they may distracted by this more than others notice, or more than they care to mention in normal conversation.

The default expectation that comes with most holidays is to be upbeat and engaged in familiar celebratory rituals. There is an expectation to connect in a positive way with family and loved ones. But this very opportunity for connection can quite naturally bring out what the veteran may be most truly feeling. As unpleasant as that may be, it is real. This can actually be positive if it is welcomed. In Jeff’s case, his holiday disclosures were disturbing to the family but they were a milestone moment that prompted his family’s increased concern for his well-being.

Please take the time to ask veterans you know how the holidays really were for them.

January 4, 2015

One thought on “Holidays not always merry

  1. I would like to add another voice to the struggle with P.T.S.D. As a military wife (my husband is now retired), I deal with a partner who goes through really tough episodes. He has been hospitalized over the years. He has also been suicidal. This man is wonderful when he is not being “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” My beloved does so many good things for other veterans, even in the midst of his struggle. What I would like to hear more about is the partners, wives, husbands, significant others who live with soldiers (retired or active). We suffer too. We also celebrate. I am a survivor of Cancer(s) and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I have had my own P.T.S.D to deal with as a result. Let us put a name to that too. Did you know that rape victims/survivors have a similar profile as those who went to war. Veteran Hospitals. Mental Health Facilities have to make room for us women as well. I recommend E.M.D.R. , Acupuncture, Support Groups, Music, Nature Walks, Meditation, Medication (M and M..ha, ha) and a few good friends who love you for who you truly are.

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