Imagine yourself at eighteen years old. One day you’re working on your parent’s farm in Tennessee, and the next you’re drafted to serve in World War II. Nothing in your few years of life thus far could have possibly prepared you for the horrors that you are about to see, hear, and experience.
Those of us who have not served active duty in the military during wartime could never even begin to understand the lifelong weight that veterans must carry once they return home. They have seen things, heard things, and done things most of us couldn’t possibly imagine.
However, as caregivers, you can relate to feeling emotionally and physically stressed in the workplace. You, too, experience days that push you to your limits. You, too, have trouble relaying your experiences to your friends and family members with more conventional jobs. You, too, deserve more recognition for the tremendous sacrifices you make on a daily basis. If there is a veteran in your care, use this shared experience to empathize and bond with your client.
Below, we’ve listed some resources and information that can help you provide your veteran clients with the best care possible. Keep in mind that for years, your client advocated for your personal freedoms on a daily basis. Do your part to show your gratitude now by advocating for his or her continued well-being!
Be on the lookout for signs of PTSD.
Treat PTSD as seriously as you would any other war injury. Though you cannot see it with the naked eye, PTSD is a wound that can often be just as deep. If you notice any of the symptoms listed below, make sure your client’s family members and healthcare team are made aware of it!
Symptoms of PTSD
- Difficulty sleeping
- Recurring dreams and nightmares
- Irritability or emotional outbursts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Easily startled
Allow your clients to share their stories by bearing witness to their sacrifice. Many veterans enjoy reliving tales from their past. However, do not force your client to tell you stories he or she does not want to remember. If your client makes it clear that he or she does not want to talk about the past, do your best to distract them and move on.
Build a community.
Military life is in and of itself a community-focused way of living. Many veterans are used to confiding in a community of like-minded people, and may feel lost without one. Help your client find a community or group where he or she can connect with others and share experiences!
Monitor loud noises.
Sudden, loud noises and experiences may be off-putting to someone who has served in the military. Keep this in mind when planning activities or even just spending time with them at home.
Keep a strict routine.
Most veterans are used to regimented routines and feel their best when living by a schedule. Help your client thrive by keeping a regular routine each day. Doing so will allow your client to achieve a sense of real peace.
In addition, please encourage your clients to visit the following links to make sure they are taking advantage of all of the military benefits and programs that are available for them.