For thousands of families gathering across the country to celebrate the holidays in warm rooms filled with freshly baked cookies and Christmas trees boasting many a shimmering strand of lights, there is always someone noticeably missing.
Abroad in a place they often cannot specify to even their closest loved ones, that someone is an active duty military member – whose presence is missed every day by spouses and children and whose absence can be especially painful during the holiday season. Close to 174,000 of the country’s 1.4 million active-duty military personnel are serving outside the United States, according to a Nov. 27 report from the U.S. Department of Defense, leaving many soldiers and their spouses, children and other family members to feel alone and isolated this holiday season.
It is not only active-duty soldiers and their families who can struggle during the holidays, but veterans, who are finding it difficult to reintegrate into society after being in combat, and their loved ones also often need a friendly shoulder to lean on as they face such issues as posttraumatic stress disorder and financial strains that can lead to homelessness.
College of Nursing Professor Linda Carman Copel, PhD, RN, PMHCNS, BC, CNE, NCC, FAPA, a licensed psychotherapist who works with military families and is a PTSD expert, stressed there is a tremendous need for support for soldiers, veterans and their families during this time of the year. One does not need to look far to help out, and she suggested a number of easy ways to reach someone who could use a little extra love these days.