Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day were created to honor all our men and women in uniform, past and present. Celebrating these days brings acknowledgement were it is due but for some, these are difficult days. While it is good to show support for the troops, we need to remember individuals who are struggling with a separation, injury, mental and/or emotional disorder, or loss of a loved one through military service. This could be military personnel, their spouse, children, other family members, and friends. If you are not a part of or somehow touched by military service on a daily basis, it can be difficult to really understand the reality, stress, and sacrifice military families make and endure for the good of their country.
Being around someone who is struggling can be uncomfortable, especially if you don’t know what is going on or what to say. Sometimes, just being there is help enough. Be sure to go with the flow, if they don’t want to participate in the days events, don’t push them. If they want privacy, respect that fact. Sometimes, ignoring the day and planning outings with no connection to the day helps people cope. Avoidance may be negative but if it is what the person needs for now, so be it. Pushing too hard when a person is not ready to deal does more harm than good. If you think someone is depressed, suicidal, or exhibiting out of control behavior with alcohol, substance abuse, sexual activity, gambling, and displaying uncontrolled moments of rage and anger, don’t be afraid to talk to them about it or get help. They may be in denial, you can’t be. Do not make a big deal if they are coping in a right or wrong way. Unless, of course, if whatever they are doing is breaking the law or they become a danger to themselves or others.
If you are a mandatory reporter: doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, etc. it is your duty to alert the proper authorities, even if you think it may end a friendship or make family “get together’s” uncomfortable. The well being of the individual is the most important factor overall. Let them set the tone for the day.
Links that may be helpful:
Spokane VA facility
The difference between Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day
Armed Forces Day Parade
http://www.defense.gov/afd/ 2014 Armed Forces Day Poster
Memorial Day May 26th
Veteran’s Day November 11th
Honor Point Military & Aerospace Museum
Spokane Valley, WA 99211