Blog Written by: Erin Jones M.A., M.Ed.., LPC
Healthy Horizons “honors those who have made that commitment to serve in our armed forces to defend our nation and its people. We thank you and appreciate your commitment and sacrifice.”
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Veteran’s day is an opportunity to slow down and take a few minutes to ponder the sacrifices service men and women have made to ensure you and I have the opportunity to live in freedom within the greatest country on planet earth. This should be at the forefront of our minds as most of us know a service member or have military family members somewhere in our lineage. We really are enjoying the benefits of a free land because of the brave men and women who fought for that freedom.
The sacrifices are many and extend to a soldier’s family on the home front. As the holidays approach, many families will miss their family members at the table, around the tree, or as that clock strikes midnight who are serving elsewhere or lost their lives. As you consider those you know or love who serve or you see a service member out in public, take a moment to thank them, tell them why you are thankful for their service, and find ways to serve or volunteer in their honor.
I have had the privilege of interviewing a number of veterans and first responders throughout my training about their service. I have asked about a soldier’s life abroad and at home, and how their commitment impacts their family members. One veteran with four tours behind him asked me what people mean when they say thank you. He wondered “are they thanking me for leaving my home and family, or for missing my kid’s plays or games? Are they thanking me for shooting someone they perceive as a threat or for keeping the trauma or nightmares to myself? What does thank you mean?” He added, “are they saying thank you out of obligation? How am I supposed to respond or feel when they look at me with disdain?”
Sometimes, it would seem, that our veterans and their families might be lacking the support they need, not just within the realm of services accessible to them, but within the community, especially in our current sociopolitical climate. While the stigma that has plagued mental health care is being more and more normalized, within the military culture it can still equate to weakness and vulnerability. The apathy, stigma, or even disrespect sometimes felt within society towards those who serve as related to trauma, depression, anxiety, and adjusting to civilian life can leave veterans feeling like it is easier to go it alone. No veteran should walk alone or be forgotten.
How can we help? Get involved. Be bold and say thank you and for what. Do tangible things like showing up for your veteran friend or neighbor. You do not need to “fix them” or have all the answers, but you can listen or just be there. Try mowing the lawn of a military family next door, bringing a meal, offering to fix a leaky sink for the military mom on the home front with the kids, and volunteering or donating to organizations already serving this community. A few of these organizations include Operation Gratitude or Soldiers Angels. Learn with your children, teach them about our country’s heritage and military history through organizations such as the Society for Military History or through virtual tours of our nation’s monuments through Virtual Tours of United States Veterans and War Memorials and normalize a heart of gratitude for our service men and women.
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All of the therapists associated with Healthy Horizons, LLC are independent professionals with their own practices and are independent wellness businesses, separate from Healthy Horizons, LLC.