By: Lauren Morrow
Tis the season! As proud Americans, we take great pride in our holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving and celebrating all the way into the new year. Our holiday season is full of giving thanks, spending time with loved ones, and celebrating all that we have to be joyous for. Many Americans showed their gratefulness over Thanksgiving by sharing how thankful they are for our nation’s heroes. In fact, a recent study shows that 72% of Americans are most thankful for their personal freedom. With the Christmas season now in full bloom, Wins for Warriors wants to continue to spread awareness about how military veterans and their families prevail through all circumstances.
For military members and veterans, as well as their friends and families, the holiday season is not always as simple as enjoying a great meal and expressing appreciation. The unique circumstances in each military family’s holiday season is just as unique as the family themselves.
The Wins For Warriors mission is to empower United States military veterans and their families by strengthening collaboration and raising positive awareness in our community. After just celebrating Thanksgiving, and Christmas right around the corner, it is extremely important that American’s be informed citizens in regards to how military, veterans, and their loved ones experience the holiday season in their own individual ways. As far as helping out goes, there are plenty of options when it comes to making a difference in the lives of our nation’s heroes both here in the United States as well as overseas.
The holiday experiences of the brave men and women who have fought for our country should matter to each and every American. They are memories that stick with that person and affect those around them every year. Here are a few examples of how the holiday season is not so traditional for military families and why it is important to be understanding.
Being separated during the holiday season can be extremely stressful for military families. When a family member or friend is deployed on a holiday, it is not easy on either party. Everyone handles tough times in different ways so it is crucial that communication is as open as possible when it comes to how everyone involved chooses to observe the holiday.
There can be a great deal of very deep emotions that get brought to the surface when a family member or friend is deployed. That goes for the deployed person as well as their loved ones. Those deep emotions may cause the deployed servicemember to distance themselves on that day so that they do not have to hear about the festivities and feel as though they are missing out.
Some servicemembers may even go as far to try and distance themselves from friends they have within the service while deployed as well while they handle their emotions on their own. It is important to keep in mind that everyone has different coping mechanisms and there is no right or wrong way to deal with tough times. It should be of note, however, that the military actually emphasizes that servicemembers be social with those around them as much as possible to maintain emotional well-being and future social reintegration.
It is not easy to have people absent from holiday traditions, but in the spirit of Christmas, maintaining a positive attitude and being grateful for all of the good going on is key to feeling emotionally balanced.
Finding Light in the Dark
It is not uncommon for military veterans to not think of holidays as the joyous and cheery gatherings that they are intended to be. For many veterans, holidays are viewed as stressful and overwhelming events that they prefer to not be involved in. No matter what the reasoning, if a loved one returns from deployment and no longer feels merriment in preparation for the holiday season, they need support and open-mindedness from the people closest to them.
Trying new things in order to find out what works best for each individual case can help veterans who have experienced traumatic events and have different emotions than they did before they were deployed. Establishing new traditions or finding a different way of celebrating holidays than before can be extremely beneficial for everyone. Enjoying time with beloved veterans in your life is priceless and should not be overlooked for the sake of making them uncomfortable with any traditional holiday practices.
There are also tons of support groups for families of veterans who have not readjusted well and do not find joy in the things they once did. Finding the good in the bad takes time and work but it is worth it to enjoy special days with veterans, which many family members have discovered and are sharing with others.
Coping With Loss
For those with a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice, the holidays can be a particularly emotional time. Coping with the loss of a friend or family member is not easy. It takes a lot of bravery, time, and patience with oneself to discover what works best to help ease the mind.
Holidays are a time that can bring up a great deal of memories and cause quite the emotional overload. Depending on what works for each individual person, some coping mechanisms include surrounding yourself with caring people who love and support you, try to avoid canceling any plans, and take the best care of yourself that you can. There is nothing wrong with feeling strong emotions, and those feelings certainly should not be looked down upon or ignored. Meeting other people who are going through the same struggle can often be of great assistance, which is why support groups are such an excellent resource.
How To Help
There are some excellent opportunities for anyone to do their part in making a veteran or deployed military servicemember have a wonderful holiday season.
Wins For Warriors will be hosting a #GivingTuesday donation event on Tuesday, November 29th with a goal of $10,000 to support veterans and their families. If you also want to dedicate your time in-person, contact your local Veteran’s Association residential home or hospital and volunteer your time this holiday season. There are also tons of donation opportunities for veterans and their families that accept everything from children’s clothes to furniture. Here is a list of charities and organizations that accept donations for the upcoming holiday season.