By Camilla Schwoebel, MS, LPC
Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, NW Health Planning Region 1
540-373-3223 ext. 3085
As we look forward to celebrating Veterans Day and paying tribute to the men and women who bravely serve our country, let's also not forget the sacrifices of their families. Even in times of peace, military families face unique stressors which impact every member of the family unit. Frequent and unexpected moves, the deployment and separation of the service member (who may be a parent, a sibling or a child), and in times of conflict, the injury and death of a loved one.
These stressors and challenges affect each family member in a different way, depending upon the developmental stage and age of the individual, their physical and mental health, and their support systems. While we may typically think that these stressors affect only older children, or spouses, new research from the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families examines the effects of the military lifestyle, particularly deployment and homecoming cycles, on infants and toddlers. In addition to these young children, we may also forget the impact on siblings. In the current Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom conflicts, there are a greater number of siblings being left at home than there are children of deployed service members.
However, there is good news. For one thing, military families are impressively resilient. They learn quickly to be flexible, resourceful, and brave in the face of often overwhelming challenges and changes. They learn to establish new routines and to deal with loss and change.
The other piece of good news is that there is an increasing awareness of the need to support our military families. There are more resources available to families now than during any past periods of conflict. Almost every base or post has an individual or office dedicated to helping ease the transition before and after deployments.
One of the most important elements determining the success of military families in dealing with multiple stressors, is community support. So, on the eve of this year's Veterans Day, do what you can to support military families in your neighborhood. In lieu of anything else, a word of thanks goes a long way.
Virginia Wounded Warrior Program
There is a new community resource coordinated through the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) and Virginia Department of Veterans Services. The Virginia Wounded Warrior Program provides services to veterans and their families for any stress-related problem as well as traumatic brain injuries resulting from service in combat areas.
Who Is Eligible for Services?
The program supports the following persons on their road to recovery from the effects of stress related injuries (such as post traumatic stress disorder) or traumatic brain injuries:
- Veterans of any era who are Virginia residents
- Members of the Virginia National Guard
- Members of the Armed Forces Reserves
- Family members of veterans and service members
What Services Are Provided?
Services are provided by Community Services Board clinicians, staff, and Peer Support Specialists.
- Peer Support Groups
- Marriage Counseling
- Family and Child Counseling
- Substance Abuse Counseling
- Identification and Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Identification and referral for traumatic brain injuries
- Referral information
The Peer Support Specialists facilitate veterans peer and family support groups. They also provide outreach and referral services to veterans and their families. All services are confidential.
Resources for Military Families:
- Military One Source - http://www.militaryonesource.com
- Armed Forces Relief Trust - http//:www.afrtrust.org
- Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund - http//:www.cfsrf.org
- Operation Homefront - http//:www.operationhomefront.net
- Operation Family Fund - http://www.operationfamilyfund.org
- National Military Family Association - http://www.nmfa.org
- Wounded Warrior Project - http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org
- National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families - http://www.zerotothree.org