Military families can be exposed to stress long after a deployment ends. Once the service member returns it is not guaranteed that they can integrate into their previous life without repercussions. Here are some tips to help service members and their families adjust to post-deployment.
Secondary trauma can occur — Not only can a service member experience post-traumatic stress, but their families can suffer secondary stress due to the service member. Family members can become stressed when constantly worrying about saying or doing something that will make the service member angry or depressed. It is common and should be addressed along with helping the service member.
Education is needed for family members — Family members may not understand why service members react in unusual ways after a deployment. Erratic driving may be a reaction to having driven in combat areas with the fear of ambushes or IEDs. Loud noises can startle service members, or they may react to other unexpected triggers. Helping family members understand why service members react in certain ways can help them with their ongoing relationship.
Spend time together — Post-deployment is an important time for couples to strengthen their relationship. They should avoid the usual distractions of electronics and TV but instead rekindle the romance which originally brought them together. This will help ground the service member and reduce their stress.
Develop a personal support group — It is important for family members to have support outside of their immediate group. They should find a group where they can be comfortable and discuss their feelings. This can include a group of spouses in similar situations, or other groups available on your installation. Do some homework and find support you need. Don’t rely on your family alone to help with your stress.
>Don’t consider your stress more important than your spouse or family — All family members suffer stress during and after deployment, and all members must be careful not to consider their stress level more important or greater than the rest of the family. This can become adversarial and lead to additional stress. Work with each other, not against.
Don’t overreact to PTSD — If a service member or family member experiences post-traumatic stress, it is important not to fight it. Express your support for the member or give them the space they need, but don’t try to battle it. It can become worse if the stressed person feels they are being attacked.
Operation Rubix is available to service members and veterans in the greater Sarasota area. We have a range of services available to treat conditions including post-traumatic stress. Contact us today at 941-330-4240 for more information.