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redpony 07-18-2013 02:27 PM

Advice needed from military families
My son is soon returning from his deployment in Afganistan. He has always been a happy go lucky "kid", so much so that his nickname is Smiley. I have been able to talk to him via Facebook chat fairly frequently and he seemed his usual self. But the last few times I've talked with him he seems quite down (even though he is preparing to leave, which makes me uber happy) He was also "Dear John'ed" by his girlfriend while he was there. So maybe the thought of coming home and her not being there is bothering him? I was a single Mom for 12 yrs and am very close with both my kids, they can and do tell me everything (more than I want to know often, lol) I know he will be changed from this life experience, I'm just fearful that our closeness will suffer and I want to help him adjust in any way I can. Any advice?

dbarabians 07-18-2013 02:41 PM

Redpony I am a psychologist working at the VA Medical Center In Dallas I work in the emergency room and with veterans experiencing PTSD.
You need to become familiar with the symptoms and be alert for any drastic changes in behavior.
You are not over reacting.
Talk to him and see if there is any counseling available at the base he is stationed at. Tell him never to be afraid to ask for help if life become too much to handle. If he starts to experience episodes of anger or rage get him to nearest hospital immediately. If he has PTSD or signs of major depression this can be treated successfully.
You can PM me if you need to.
Good luck to that young man that has served his country so bravely. You have a right to be very proud of his service to this country. Now allow that country to show him they appreciate his patriotism. Shalom

dbarabians 07-18-2013 02:45 PM

REDPONY this is the Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 then press one. Or you can chat at It is private and confidential. Shalom Donald

redpony 07-18-2013 02:55 PM

Thank you so much, DBA! He is "scheduled" to be stateside in about a week and I will be able to talk with him a length on the phone and maybe better asses how he is feeling. The last phone call I got was interrupted by a bombing raid and he had to hang up, I was a total wreck until called back 2 hrs later. He was raised to know that counseling is nothing to be ashamed of but I worry that the culture of the Army will interfer with that. He won't be home on leave until the end of August. I will definately write down the info and keep it handy! Thanks, again, DBA

Samstead 07-18-2013 03:00 PM

bumping cause I know a kid joining the army and this info could be useful even though I'm in Canada

dbarabians 07-18-2013 03:18 PM

The current active duty military culture concerning mental health care is not very encouraging IMPO.
Soldiers are denied promotions and other perks if they actively seek counseling in some instances.
Anyone with a family member or friend who is either a veteran or current military member needs to keep the Veterans Crisis Line number and website for future use.
Veterans and military members deserve dignity, respect, and the gratitude of this nation above all others. They are grossly overworked and underpaid so the rest of us can enjoy the peace and tranquilty their service ensures.
No veteran should ever be worried about receiving the care necessary to return to a happy fulfilling life. Shalom

Roperchick 07-18-2013 03:20 PM

Can't really compete with what DBA says. He's got a lot of good info and advice on it.

I CAN say though from personal experience that sometimes when we've been away from home so long and we get used to the routine were in, even though were looking forward solo much to getting home...its almost scary.
For me at least, even talking to my parents 4-5 times a week and hearing the news. I've had this picture in my head of what "home" is and how people are. And knowing how much people may have changed and places etc I don't WANT to face it in case its not home any more.

Plus PTSD as DBA mentioned.

Its just an adjustment process that he has to go through.

Darrin 07-18-2013 03:22 PM

From my personal military experience without having PTSD.
-He'll need time to decompress. I was in the Navy on a ship in the gulf during the first gulf war, not a single shot fired at us. It still took me a couple months to return to what I considered the normal me. After being shot at, bombed, scared to death, etc. I don't know how long it might take for your son.

-Remember he's a man now so treat him that way. It's tough for a mom I know but when he's home on leave heading out for some fun with friends you really don't need to ask what he's going to be doing or when he's going to be home. Just tell him to have fun, don't get into to much trouble.

-Kind of depends on your son's personality but one of the things I wanted was quite and solitude. I was living, breathing and eating military life the whole deployment. Even on the rare times I was by myself there was still noise beating in on me. Most others didn't complain about that but it bothered me, I was raised on a farm with a lot of elbow room.

dbarabians 07-18-2013 03:29 PM

Humans are creatures of habit. Like Darrin said he will need time to return to a normal routine.
This is a big change. Change causes stress and even a change for the better such as returning home , his body will react the same as when he deployed.
Depression at such a time is normal and remember he has been on edge for most of this deployment.
Do not expect him to just return happy and carefree. He has seen and witnessed things most of us will never comprehend.
Roperchick, you keep us safe so KUDOS to you my young friend. Shalom Donald

Joe4d 07-18-2013 05:16 PM

allow for decompression, NO PARTIES, NO RELEATIVES, no mass get togethers, no we gotta go here, gotta go there, No we gotta go to dinner, NO any of that mess. Dont plan, dont coerce, dont obligate, dont tell other people when he is coming, or invite them over on his behalf. Dont make or agree to any plans or allow others to do the same. Dont know how to convey this strongly enough. If he wants to go out , or have get togethers let him do that. Nothing sucks more than being gone from home a year, get hime and all you want to do is BE HOME, only to get dragged here there and the other like a show pony.

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