Our nation’s service members have earned the sense of pride and satisfaction in their performance throughout the world. Our nation’s military is the best in the world because it has the best service members.
Painful feelings may be mixed with this pride including anger, fear, guilt, hopelessness, loneliness or sadness; it is also human to try and avoid them. There could be many reasons – physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual – why you may be experiencing these uncomfortable emotions. Maybe you miss the camaraderie of your fellow soldiers since you’ve returned home. Maybe you are living with physical pain from an injury. Or perhaps, as a family member, you’re weary of navigating the health system to care for your wounded veteran. One of the hardest parts about experiencing these uncomfortable emotions is accepting them as OK – especially when you’ve been feeling them for a while.
As you take a look at these feelings, you may find that you would like to talk with a chaplain. You can contact us through email, phone or video call through our service, Chat with a Chaplain.
Anger is a powerful emotion. It can lead you to swing wildly between extremes – from fiery rage and out-of-control feelings to a simmering resentment that drains you. Maybe you’re angry that it’s harder than you thought to transition home. Or maybe your loved one’s increased irritability is difficult to manage.
What we feel isn’t at issue. Your anger is understandable. The issue is what we do with our anger.
Anger is energizing. You can take the power you feel from your anger and use it positively. It wouldn’t be surprising if some of the world’s best drummers first used the instrument as a way to release their anger. Ever notice those people who have tragically lost a loved one turn their anger into building an organization to help others who have similarly suffered? There are countless ways to channel this powerful emotion for the good. But before you’re able to do that, you might want to take the time to work through your anger. Talking helps. That is when a chaplain or another trusted counselor can help.
As a member of the military, you’re not likely to be used to admitting feelings of fear or anxiety. No doubt, you feel it – most of us do – but expressing fearful feelings isn’t typically part of the military culture. And yet, if left unaddressed our fears can become overpowering.
Whether you’re afraid of the reaction of your loved one when you tell him or her something that you know they will disapprove, or you fear the financial insecurity of being a single parent, fear can be overcome, one day at a time. Sometimes we need strength from others to help us manage our fear. Speaking with a chaplain or someone else you trust can be helpful and calming during these times.
Members of our nation’s armed forces serve to protect and defend. Some things occur in war that may conflict with those values. Soldiers live to protect each other and sometimes the individual cannot prevent harm to a fellow soldier.
Thoughts of what “you should have” done or not done can run rampant in your mind – going around and around with no end. To help break the cycle, you may find it helpful to speak with a chaplain or someone else you trust.
It makes sense that you might be feeling guilty for actions you may have taken. Talking out your feelings of guilt and regret can help you sort through conflicting thoughts. You can figure out when you may actually need to make amends and what are just unproductive thoughts. Often forgiving yourself is really what you need to do.
When everything in your life seems bleak and nothing brings you joy, the heavy and draining feelings of hopelessness can set in. Some veterans may worry that they are changed or they are no longer the person they were before wartime service. It may be because you’ve been unemployed a long time since you left the military or you’re worried about your financial security. Whatever the reason, feeling hopeless can zap the energy you need to take action to change how you feel.
Even simply reaching out to a friend can feel impossible. Perhaps you don’t want to burden them or maybe you feel like you have no good reason to feel so badly. That is just the time when speaking with a chaplain or another trusted counselor can help give you the hope you need to cope with your feelings.
The transition from a combat unit to a home base or civilian life can leave a veteran feeling isolated. Few people serve in the military and service members may not feel comfortable discussing events or experiences with others who lack this service. Wartime experiences may cause some veterans to struggle with sharing their emotions or feelings.
You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. Reaching out to speak with someone about your lonely feelings can help ease the pain. There are many reasons that military service can bring up feelings of loneliness.
Perhaps you don’t want to offend your loved ones and admit that you feel distant from them when they live with you every day. That is when talking with a chaplain or another trusted counselor who understands your feelings can help.
Sadness is tied to feelings of grief and loss. As a military veteran, one who is currently serving, or family member, it is likely you have lost a friend or loved one. What makes feelings of sadness so hard is not knowing how long it will take to heal the emotional wounds that cause the sadness. Living with the sadness can often be made easier when we share it with someone else. Speaking with a chaplain or another trusted counselor can make bearing the burden much easier.