As the conflict in the Gulf intensifies, all Americans will experience varying amounts of grief and fear. Nobody is unaffected by war. In military families, however, there is the added fear for the safety of loved ones who may be or already have been deployed, as well as the potential challenges of coping as a single parent.
You or someone you know may already be experiencing some of the following signs of the emotional impact of this stress, or these symptoms may arise over the coming weeks and months:
Some people will try to get back into the routine of life as soon as possible to regain a sense of control, but others will have difficulty focusing for some time. Both reactions are common responses to crisis. The intensity of your feelings will decrease as time passes and you focus attention on day-to-day activities. Because everybody experiences stress differently, don’t compare your “progress” with others around you or judge other people’s reactions and emotions. While many people survive major life stressors without developing significant psychological problems, others may need assistance.
Here are some tips for coping during these difficult times:
Resources for Additional Information and Support
Contact your local Mental Health America or the Mental Health America for information on mental health, mental illness, treatment options, and local treatment/support services. You can contact Mental Health America at 1-800-969-6642 (toll-free) or at its website, www.mentalhealthamerica.net.
Tricare, the administrator of health and mental health services for the armed services, provides information about mental health benefits programs for the military at their web site, www.tricare.osd.mil.
The Army Family Assistance Hotline is 1-800-833-6622,
and the Army Reservist Hotline is
1-800-318-5298. The Coast Guard Reserve Web site is www.uscg.mil/hq/reserve/reshmpg.html. The number for Marine Corps Community Service Centers West of the Mississippi is 1-800-253-1624; and, East of the Mississippi, the number is 1-800-336-4663.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs operates a web site (www.va.gov) that contains information on and applications for compensation, health, burial, and other benefits.
The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a program of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that focuses on research and education on post-traumatic stress. It operates a web site at www.ncptsd.org.
The Vietnam Veterans of America web site has a section on post-traumatic stress that includes suggestions for veterans or their survivors seeking VA benefits. Information on how to apply for benefits, how the VA establishes levels of disability, what to do if an appeal is lost, medical services, etc., can be accessed at www.vva.org/benefits/ptsd.htm.
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America offers information on all anxiety disorders, as well as a referral network of professional therapists and self-help groups. Call 240-485-1001, or visit www.adaa.org.
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies has research and clinical information about PTSD and can be accessed at www.istss.org.
Sidran is a charitable organization the collects, produces and publishes information on traumatic stress. The web site is www.sidran.org.
The College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University has information for families dealing with the impact of deployment at www.humec.k-state.edu/news/2003/militarymain.html.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS) assists people who have lost family members in the Armed Forces. TAPS provides a survivor peer support network, grief counseling referrals, and crisis information and can be reached at 1-800-959-TAPS (8277) or www.taps.org.
Other web sites for military families include: www.lifelines2000.org; www.militarycity.com (this includes access to www.armytimes.com, www.navytimes.com, www.airforcetimes.com, and www.marinecorpstimes.com); www.afsv.af.mil/FMP; and www.sgtmoms.com.
The Mental Health America has several resources available to help you and others cope with tragic events, loss and other topics. To obtain this information, call our toll-free line 800-969-6642.