Commemorative holidays are hard for some individuals who might have a different experience than others. The Fourth of July means something different for those on the frontlines fighting for people’s freedom. Memorial Day also looks different for loved ones of veterans. The American tradition of memorializing soldiers who passed away in combat began after the Civil War. Over time, it became more important as more lives were lost to various world wars and conflicts. Millions of Americans take this day off work and spend it with family or friends. They might also attend ceremonies, parades, and special events to honor those who have fallen. Others are locked into addiction and need additional support this holiday season.
Veterans are particularly susceptible to substance abuse because of what they experience on the battlefield or what they return home with. The Vietnam War, in particular, was a breeding ground for mental health issues and substance abuse. Other veterans are not immune, either, to the effects of substance use disorder. Friends and family of soldiers and veterans also struggle with the far-reaching ramifications of addiction. They strive to find support for their loved ones while they are trying to cope with loving an addicted person.
If you know someone this Memorial Day who may be struggling with substance use disorder, it helps for them to know they’re not alone. They may struggle in silence or be high-functioning, acting like nothing is wrong. Meanwhile, family and friends know something isn’t quite right. To help someone with an addiction is to focus on giving them the support they need to recover.
Many organizations work to help veterans trying to overcome addiction. Charities, government, and other groups support veterans. Many such organizations are for homeless veterans or those in great need. Others offer support specifically for addicted veterans. One thing all organizations have in common is a need for more funding and volunteers. Consider giving back to an organization, like VFW, if that group has been of great support for a loved one with an addiction. It may also be useful to devote time to helping either a loved one or others who are struggling. Maybe it is a co-worker or someone else who simply needs a listening ear. These are all simple, easy ways to help honor veterans this summer.
Awareness and education are crucial tools for the journey of recovery. Veterans who have an addiction often struggle to acknowledge their issues. If a veteran with addiction cannot admit they have a problem, it is hard to give them proper help. Awareness begins with seeing what nobody else can see in that loved one. It is about building a space that acknowledges their struggle. It’s about acknowledging the tremendous challenges they face, past and present. One of the best ways to speak with someone about addiction is to thoroughly understand the issue yourself. Take notes and write down what is going on. Don’t hesitate to keep track of what is happening to make a more compelling argument in getting them help. Education is also crucial, so you can help them get aligned with proper resources. The more people that know about the severe problem, the more people can do about it. Many people want to help but are not always sure how.
Support comes in many shapes and sizes. It is impactful to help a veteran with issues, but it is a lonely place to be for both loved ones and the veteran. On days like Memorial Day, they may not want to remember all their struggles and past trauma. Many veterans feel deep loneliness about their situation. They are not sure how to bridge the isolation to connect with loved ones. Some people may stigmatize them and not support what they are going through. Support is critical for them to get help and move forward in recovery.
Even amid all the trials veterans face with substance use disorder, there is the opportunity to look ahead and think about what life can look like in recovery. What they need is support from loved ones and friends, community-wide support, and excellent treatment programs that focus specifically on their needs. Veterans deserve to have the best in care and support. Holidays can be triggers, so ramp up support, offer more help than usual, and dedicate time to taking care of them at this moment. Reach out and ask how you can support their goals of being in recovery or giving up substances. Though they may find it hard to believe, they are loved just as they are. During their addiction, they might lose sight of who they are. Getting them the help they need is essential to change their hearts and point them towards a better way of living.
Strive gives you hope and space to find healing. We support you when you have triggers and need additional help to cope. If you or a loved one are struggling, we will help you find your way again. Call us: 1-888-224-7312