Why Veterans may be Resistant to Seeking Help
Possible consequences of facing war related illness.
This information is crucial to both veterans and family members for understanding why many veterans resist help.
Many Veterans can be highly resistant to the admission of war related illness due to the consequences it may bring. These consequences are very real and the impact can be deep and affect the veteran and their family with long lasting and devastating effects.
If a veteran starts to notice his/her OWN behaviors that are worrisome or cause for concern, he/she will most likely choose one of these routes:
- To recognize something is wrong but be cautious about who they tell and the amount of detail that they share. Information shared will be on a need-to-know basis, meaning that if the veteran feels that he or his family is threatened in any way, he/she will share only what they believe is safe to share. Many times, important information needed for diagnosis is LEFT OUT due to this fear.
- They “bite the bullet” and/or “suck it up and drive on” which means, that they will ignore all danger signs of the illness. This is especially problematic during the initial stages of illness when, if faced, there could be meaningful intervention and support AND may help the veteran avoid other related problems, like self-medication through alcohol and drug abuse.
- The veteran is actually not aware that he/she has changed or is acting any differently. This is sometimes called denial. Due to any number of reasons, sometimes veterans actually believe that nothing is wrong with them. This could be because they have become unable to gauge their own feelings. It could be that they are afraid to face the fact that something is wrong for fear of what may happen to them or to their family. One way or another, a veteran who may be behaving differently than pre-deployment, is simply unable or unwilling to admit a problem.
Veterans may be concerned about being invalidated or minimized if they speak up. Veterans have become experts in “sucking it up” and enduring to stay safe and alert in a war zone. It often takes some time when they return home, to begin to understand that they might need help. They are often concerned that IF and WHEN they do seek help, they may be told that ‘it is all in their head” which further distances them from seeking help and often validates their own self-talk that they are weak, when in fact, it takes the courage of a warrior to ASK for help.
Being overwhelmed by not knowing a specific point of contact to seek help. Sometimes, even when a vet is ready and willing to take the risk to seek help, they are often overwhelmed at how difficult it is, and lack of personal contact in seeking help. After mustering up the courage to ask for help, they may not even know where to start and this just makes it easier to do nothing than to try to figure out where to get help without getting overwhelmed even further.
- Being a single veteran with custody of children. Many veterans will not disclose that they are becoming ill for fear of losing their rights and access to their children. To many of them, admitting that they have a war-related illness may seem like they are jeopardizing the most important thing in their lives; their children.
Each of these issues potentially impacts a veterans financial stability. Many people believe that there are processes in place that help a veteran to transition if they become sick. This is not correct. There are some federal emergency funds and agencies available to help, but not enough and most of the time, ANY funding is difficult to apply for and receive…especially if you are sick OR you are the family member of an ill veteran. The process for assistance is extremely lengthy, complex and anxiety provoking.
There are NO EASY ANSWERS or SOLUTIONS to this problem, but it plagues many veterans. Understanding the EXTREME effects of ADMITTING something is wrong can help family members and healing practitioners to be more sensitive to the veterans’ fears. THEY ARE REAL.
Understanding the EXTREME effects of the devastation and impact of war related illness can help our Country to understand the opportunity we have to provide NEW options to help those who have made a great sacrifice for our freedom.
If you NEED help, please contact us and we will do what we can to direct you to the appropriate resource.
If you WANT to help, please consider donating to Veterans’ Families United Foundation.
Disclaimer: Veterans’ Families United Foundation does not guarantee results or outcome of the information provided in any of its materials