I remember when I took classes to obtain my certification as a trauma professional counselor; and remembered reading how trauma/PTSD affects family members, especially children. It’s that nature/nurture factor again. It all made sense as I thought about the symptoms that soldiers carry from combat or other factors from being in the military can affect those around them. When the children witness such symptoms (angry outburst, hypervigilant behaviors, sadness/depression, isolation, just to name a few), they too learn the same behaviors as the normality of their environment. Its so important children learn or gain some insight about their parent’s condition, and provide them counseling as well so they too can learn alternative ways to express themselves and also understand the normality of how the brain responds to trauma.
I can’t imagine how a child witnesses their parent in a fetal position on the floor in the corner screaming because they can’t get the image of the Humvee that blew up and killed several of his/her fellow comrades. A child has no way of knowing how to process this, let alone if these events are frequent within their environment. While it is critical for the military member to seek mental health services, its also very important all children in the home (over 6 years old) secure a child/adolescent therapist that specialize in trauma/PTSD for children. If not, I find this cycle to continue through generations. Lets not forget spouses and close family members. When I speak with veterans and their family members, its repetitious in the similarities of their stories when it comes to soldiers returning how and family members do not understand their process and what lies ahead. Psychoeducation about PTSD is the first step I recommend for family members, as well as “coaching” services which can be like a breath of fresh air when a spouse does not know what to do when her soldier is in the middle of a panic attack or experiencing flashbacks. There is always an opportunity to stop the “cycle”, and its never too late to seek support and resources. Check out my resources for military veterans for additional support.
The article attached above is for reading at your leisure. Share your thoughts!