Being a soldier entails being an example of discipline, courage, bravery, and strength. It is a great honor to your family and country. But protecting a nation is not a walk in the park. No one can deny the harsh reality that these men and women face out there on the field.
They experience situations that no one can imagine. It affects them gravely to the point where they lose themselves. Sadly, the number of military personnel committing suicide is rising. The Veteran Administration is pushing to provide services, such as therapy and counsel, to help them with their mental health.
The Hardships Of Being A Soldier
The work of a soldier is demanding. The tedious training they go through to get into the armed forces is already a challenge. But the hardships they go through doubles the moment they are deployed. They encounter physical, mental, and social problems. And this can affect their overall well-being.
They become susceptible to physical dangers, such as a hostile environment. Unfortunately, not all military men are stationed in relatively safe places. Some are brought to areas where harsh weather, chaos, and war are prominent. Wherever they are stationed, one of their duties and responsibilities is putting the safety of other people first. And this can cause injuries and other illnesses.
Unfortunately, the cause of these physical injuries can be very traumatic. Soldiers tend to see things a regular civilian will never encounter. They lose their comrades, friends, and acquaintances. These concurrences affect their mental stability, causing them to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and anger management issues after deployment.
Being away from their families does not help either. They lack physical contact and intimacy with their loved ones. As a result, they miss out on important events. Their deployment risks their relationships. They do not get to have the luxury of having a lot of breaks and their own “me time.”
The physical dangers and challenges brought by the job already take a toll on a person. However, their mental health and social relationships are severely affecting them too. These mental and social challenges do not go away when they go back home. Soldiers carry these burdens even after retirement. Physical injuries may eventually heal, but other scars will serve as a reminder of what they endured.
How Therapy Helps Soldiers
It is normal for people to seek treatment for their physical injuries. So people should consider going to therapists and counselors to help them with their mental health. Therapy and counseling help people identify and understand their negative thoughts and find coping mechanisms for them.
According to a study, some soldiers try to take their own lives because they want to stop the intense psychological distress they are experiencing. They believe that committing suicide is the way to end the pain and suffering.
Therapy can relieve this pain and suffering for soldiers. Talking to someone can help them organize their thoughts, especially after a traumatic experience. It cannot be easy to process what happened. There are times wherein soldiers put aside their feelings and focus on work instead of their mental health. While this coping style could be effective for a short time, it is still not healthy in the long run.
Keeping thoughts and emotions to yourself is a close-minded approach. By talking to a therapist, these thoughts and emotions are seen in a different light. Being open about your experience can help in having a healthy mind.
But therapy does not only make soldiers talk. Therapists guide soldiers and look for ways to accept what happened, move on, and not dwell on the pain and suffering.
The Difficulties Of Seeking Counsel
Seeking counsel is not the same for soldiers and civilians. Additionally, opening up and talking to someone about what you’re going through is easier said than done. For soldiers, it is harder to talk about topics, such as what they saw on the field, how they feel after losing someone, etc. Unfortunately, some prefer not to seek help.
There is a stigma that hinders soldiers from seeking help. There are negative connotations aligned with mental health awareness. The expectation of being mentally tough as a soldier also makes it more difficult to open up. Soldiers are seen as resilient people who can handle tough situations. They are expected to recover faster and not let emotions affect them.
Most soldiers, then, prefer to figure out their problems on their own. They may feel that their supervisors might not be supportive or understanding. They are also afraid that revealing these problems will affect their work, deeming them unfit for service. But there is nothing wrong with seeking help.
For soldiers, it’s difficult to ask for help from someone who does not know what they are going through exactly. They feel like therapists are just consulting with them and using academic sources to treat them, not truly understanding their trauma. But remember, these therapists are professionally trained for these situations. The person’s well-being is their top priority.
Soldiers are some of the toughest people in the world. They endure both physical and mental challenges. But even the toughest ones can break down and need help. Soldiers must not only prioritize their physical health but also their mental health. Seeking help from a therapist, counselor, or even a friend is beneficial for anyone, more so for soldiers.
However, it is not easy to seek help, let alone acknowledge that you need it. Soldiers are not known to ask for help as their mantra is to help others. Their experiences are so extreme that their response to the trauma is not easy to share.
But remember, seeking help is not a problem. Letting your health deteriorate is. So do not hesitate to ask for help. Your well-being is of utmost importance. Let yourself be taken care of this time.