Every year on Veteran’s Day, we honor the past and present servicemen and servicewomen of our country. And we should. We should never forget they serve so that we may be safe.
We all know that many veterans suffer from an array of mental health disorders as a direct result of their service – what they saw, what they did, all to protect us.
So many of these veterans return home and are in need of extraordinary mental health services that they rarely competently receive.
These veterans are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, siblings, and other family members. They have children. They have spouses. And they are in pain. And therefore, that pain extends to the entire family unit.
Here are just some ways that the PTSD and other challenges faced by a veteran can impact a family:
- Depression, withdrawal from the family, suicidal ideation, and even suicide are always a risk.
- Domestic violence and violence to others, while not common, can occur.
- Aggressive behavior, often stemming from untreated mental health issues that resulted from service, may occur.
Let’s look at this from the other end, from the veteran or active service-member returning from active duty, either temporarily or permanently. They have often been out of their family unit for an extended period of time. If already separated from their spouses, they may have difficulty reassimilating into their children’s lives, especially if facing some of the above challenges.
There are many ways to assist, but here are two in particular.
First, counseling, counseling, counseling. Get into individual counseling, couples’ counseling, and family counseling. Sometimes, a reunification counselor may be of great assistance.
Second: in Maryland, when a service-member returns and is required by the other parent to use the courts to re-assert parenting rights, the courts will make every effort to expedite that hearing.
Listen, this is an incredibly sensitive topic. We are weighing the rights of our veterans to resume parenting against some very real challenges that could seriously impair their rights to parent.
Whether you are a service-member or a spouse, receiving a great education from a highly experienced divorce attorney is the best place to start. Family law attorneys tend to know the best — and worst —mental health counselors, who can help the family move forward.
Whatever you do, remember to keep your children safe and out of the middle to the best of your ability.