THOUGHTS FROM A VETERAN
Holidays under normal conditions are exceedingly difficult for our Military Veterans. During this 2020 holiday season many of our Veterans are carrying all the usual stress, loneliness and hopelessness with the added pressures brought on by the heightened levels of political division, social unrest, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is the worst part of the year for Veterans who have seen the ugly underbelly of the world. If you add to that homelessness, loneliness, despair and hunger it can become unbearable. Many of our Veterans have seen firsthand the death, dismemberment, severe injury (both mental and physical) to ourselves and our friends. We have felt and still do feel extreme loneliness and despair. We have lost our friends, family members and become disconnected from the real world. Then there is the pandemic. We are all facing it again in real time.
2020 has been an especially difficult time with the Covid-19 crisis. Like all other Americans, we are told that we must isolate ourselves. We cannot meet with our fellow veterans who are part of our support systems. We are told not to share a meal or enjoy camaraderie with our family, friends, or fellow Veterans as we might expose them and ourselves to severe illness and possible death. Many Veterans normally live with self-imposed separation and loneliness caused by our own minds and thought processes. Negative contentious politics, extreme illness and fear cause us to turn our thoughts further inward and deepen the isolation from those who are in the same world and from those who would help us. Many Veterans have no home to go home to, and no families to be with.
Unfortunately, many Veterans turn to self-medication and other self-abuses to try to forget and possibly push our negative thoughts from our consciousness. These methods sometimes work for a while, but never solve the problems and never works for long.
Veterans are a community/family of Brothers and Sisters brought together by our service and our lives and experiences both military and civilian during war and peace time. We must change our way of thinking this 2020 Holiday Season. This world has changed. We must change with it. We need to find new and better ways to connect to other humans. Isolation and depriving ourselves of the joys of this world will only make it worse for ourselves and our fellow Veterans and families. Remember our thoughts and actions impact those we love, those who are around us and our very selves.
We are a very smart and capable group of people with unique sets of experiences and skill sets, even if we do not want to believe it ourselves. Some of us are in a better place than others. We can and must help each other every day especially during this difficult season.
I urge the Veteran community to reach out to each other this 2020 Holiday Season and connect with other Veterans. Do not wait for it to get better. We need to act today.
1. Join a service organization. Connections are especially important.
2. Call a fellow Veteran or family member and talk to them. Make sure that they are all right.
3. Celebrate the holidays. Do not wait for next year and for things to get better.
4. Write a seasonal card or letter to a friend or Veteran to let them know you care about them.
5. Reach out to the VA resources.
6. Put up holiday decorations. Be even more over the top than usual. Virtually share your decorations.
7. Have a holiday meal with friends and family over a virtual connection.
8. Send a gift to someone.
9. Wear a Santa Hat while you watch TV at home.
10. Become active on Social Media.
11. Volunteer with a charity to help feed or clothe another person.
Whatever you do, please do not just look at the holidays as something to get past. It is not just another chore that you must get done and over. Celebrations and sharing are good for you and for those you share them with.
Each member of the Veteran Community is important. We are not alone. There are many who are just waiting for the chance to connect with you and share the burdens that we all carry. Let others help to share the load you have to carry. You will make your burden lighter and help a buddy carry theirs.