Holiday Season Tough on Many Veterans

For most of us, the holiday season is a time of joy and happiness with family get-togethers and lots of parties. But for some veterans who suffer from PTSD or have lost a friend in combat, it’s a time of loneliness and anxiety.

The sights and sounds of the season can trigger social isolation, irritability, nightmares, and depression for veterans.

Both veterans and their families should be aware that this is a sensitive time of year. But there are lots of steps that can be taken to help veterans get through the holidays, such as making sure they get enough rest and acknowledging their feelings to relieve stress.

Here are some other ways to cope, according to the VA, VietNow and other organizations:

-- One of the most important things a veteran can do is learn to identify his or her emotions and express them to a spouse or loved ones. For instance, a veteran could say, “I’m feeling anxious today, and I need to stay home and calm myself,” or “I don’t feel like socializing much. Let’s take two cars and I’ll leave early.” Phrases like these are easy to understand and are likely to get a compassionate response.

-- Some veterans who live alone enjoy being by themselves for the holidays, but others welcome company during this time of year. Veterans who prefer companionship should consider reaching out to friends, organizations or other veterans they know for company.

-- Keeping a quiet and low-key atmosphere in the home can also be helpful for veterans. If you plan to have company, try to have small get-togethers of short duration.

-- It’s a good idea for veterans to limit their alcohol consumption. While it might not be something that we think about when having a glass of eggnog, alcohol can play a big part in holiday blues, as it is a depressant.

From all of us at Veterans Support Organization, I hope our veterans and their families have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Don’t get caught up with expectations for what the holiday should be like. Instead, celebrate in a way that is comfortable for you and your family.

If you know a veteran who is in crisis during the holiday season or any other time, make sure you contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or visit this website:

Richard VanHouten is the founder and CEO of Veterans Support Organization. 

Holiday Season