COLUMBUS, Ohio –
At Land and Maritime, we have an Active-Duty component, a number of Guard and Reserve personnel, and many veterans. Recent events in Afghanistan may have some of those individuals, especially those who served in Afghanistan, experiencing a range of challenging emotions related to the U.S withdrawal from the country. Those who served during other conflicts may also be feeling strong emotions as they are reminded of their own deployment experiences.
Military personnel and veterans may experience the following reactions related to the current events in Afghanistan:
- Feeling frustrated, sad, helpless, distressed (including moral distress), angry or betrayed
- Worrying about Afghans who worked with the U.S. military, like interpreters
- Experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
- Sleeping poorly, drinking more or using more drugs
- Trying to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
- Having more military and homecoming memories
- Questioning the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made
Military personnel and veterans also may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst and may:
- Become overly protective, vigilant and guarded
- Become preoccupied by danger
- Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future
These feelings are a normal response to negative events, especially those events that feel personal. Avoiding the feelings or trying to “stuff them down” inside is usually a mistake. It is usually much better to experience the feelings and acknowledge what they mean to you. Often these feelings will run their course and diminish over time. If they continue or you feel overwhelmed by them, consider the suggestions below.
- Engage in positive, healthy activities that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don't feel like it, as they can make you feel better.
- Stay connected by spending time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are feeling.
- Practice good self-care by engaging in activities such as listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling or reading inspirational text.
- Stick to your routines and follow a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work and do other day-to-day activities.
- Limit media exposure especially if it's increasing your distress.
If you feel that talking with someone would help, you have options! Contact your local EAP representative, Drew Henderson for in-person or by phone sessions. He can be reached at 614-692-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact our EAP Contractor, Magellan Ascend at 866-580-9046 for 6 free appointments with a local counselor. Contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.
Remember – you don’t have to go it alone! Don’t hesitate to reach out.