While there are many issues veterans face, one unaddressed dilemma many confront is maintaining relationships with family and friends. Military life challenges these relationships, but they are even more susceptible to collapse when a veteran is adjusting from transition to civilian life.
Most civilians do not understand the problems veterans face, or how their relationships can be impacted by their service. Some factors that interfere with healthy relationships can include: stress, posttraumatic stress, health concerns, depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, feeling out of place or disconnected, or difficulties with memory. These battles are the ones that linger with veterans long after leaving the service.
Many veterans have been able to overcome relationship problems after serving by improving the most important step in this process: communication. Some have found that creating a communication plan to address and express their thoughts and emotions has been instrumental in improving their mental health and overall well-being. A large component of a communication plan is listening to those who care about you. Listening is just as critical in mending relationships as speaking is.
Another important part of maintaining relationships is to practice self-care. This includes getting a full night’s sleep, implementing a healthy lifestyle – including a balanced diet and regular exercise – and could even mean balancing alone time with time spent working on relationships.
There is a wealth of resources to aid in expressing emotions and concerns with family members and friends. The Veteran Training online self-portal provides information on how to combat and manage anger, as well as strengthening problem-solving skills. There are also mobile apps offered by the VA to overcome specialized issues such as an app that includes a PTSD Coach, a Family Coach, and other various coaches.