Your family has also developed and learned survival skills while your veteran was at war. These skills helped you to make it through daily life, even knowing the constant peril that your veteran faced and the uncertainty of your future.
You may be unaware of how the coping skills that you learned while your veteran was away, and your own strengths can be transferred to begin a new life once your service person has returned home. These are some examples of the coping skills and how families and friends developed their own strengths.
- You found ways to keep your family safe by engaging in life and taking care of family business
- You were aware of and took precautions for emotional and financial safety by recognizing BUT living with the possibility that your veteran may not return
- You may have developed a “safety net” of people in your spiritual community, workplace, neighborhood who were supportive while your serviceperson was deployed.
- Trust and the Enemy
- You may have needed to extend your circle of trust to help you cope with life circumstances while your veteran was deployed.
- You may have learned to guard your feelings from anyone who may not be supportive of the war effort.
- You may have had to be hyper alert to decisions, wondering if you could trust yourself when you once relied on your veteran to share in making important decisions.
- Mission Orientation
- You may have learned to multi task even more than ever by managing a life that once included you and your veteran, but now relied solely on you taking care of many tasks at one time.
- You learned that you had to pace your energy so that you could manage the daily affairs of life. There was never a beginning or an end of the mission, it was just continuous and you had to learn to balance it.
- Even when you felt exhausted, you may have relied on people in your community, neighborhood, or church to help and support you while your recharged your energy to continue your continuous mission.
- Decision Making
- Decisions once made by you and your veteran had to be made by you alone. These decisions included all facets of life; financial, emotional, spiritual, family/children issues. You may have consulted in trusted people to help you make the decision, but ultimately, you had to make them to survive.
- To make these decisions, you had to give it thought and consideration and time and try to make the best one on behalf of you and your veteran.
- Response Tactics
- Every decision had to be made, some required thought, and some were spur of the moment and you had to learn to do the best you could under the circumstances.
- Planning may have helped you to manage the many facets of life that you faced. Thinking ahead and considering all options help you to better respond to your families needs.
- Almost everything you needed to survive was accessible, so even if you didn’t plan, you could easily obtain what you needed to survive.
- Predictability and Intelligence
- Having a stable and predictable schedule and routine helped you to manage the many aspects of life while your veteran was away.
- By sharing your needs and gathering information, you could make better decisions to manage your life and give it as much stability as possible while your serviceperson was deployed.
- Emotional Control
- You may have cried more, felt depressed, were anxious and recognized these symptoms and shared them with friends to help you through them.
- Being without the one you love, and being in fear for their life daily, you recognized that you may be preoccupied, more frustrated and other intense emotions.
- Many times, your emotions seemed out of control, but you were probably very emotional and allowed that part of you to be expressed.
- Talking about the War
- People would ask you about your veteran and you knew it was because they cared, but it was a reminder of their danger and sometimes very hard to keep being reminded.
- You found people who understood, or kept it bottled inside, but you knew that you had your own “war” at home in your heart and it was difficult but you got through it.
The survival skills that the veteran learned and the coping skills you learned while he/she was deployed may seem in direct conflict at times. However, both you and the veteran have displayed tremendous strengths and resiliency that can be tapped into when developing your new life. Drawing upon those skills, recognizing the differences, understanding one another and being willing to compromise will be a key in forging a new life ahead.
You will have to make a conscious effort to develop a new life. The life that you and the veteran knew before his/her deployment has changed forever. It is unrealistic to expect that your previous life together will be restored in the same way.
Disclaimer: Veterans Families United Foundation does not guarantee results or outcome of the information provided in any of its materials.