By: Liz Snell, Founder of Military Spouses of Strength
Thirteen years of war, thirteen years of deployments and the cycles of emotions that come with. One –hundred fifty-six months of anxiety, detaching emotionally, finding independence and then having to fit together again. Four thousand days of families separated by war, missed holidays, births and birthdays.…
These emotions and stresses can tear at the seams of the family, and begin to stretch thin the service family members going through the stresses that comes with wartime. We know that these stressors have contributed to 22 suicides per day of veterans- but we lack the knowledge of the toll that has been taken on our military families.
I know- I have lived this life, like many others, through five deployments and several moves. The constant fluctuation in stress levels reduced my self-worth, built up my anxiety levels, until I finally reached a breaking point. In March of 2013, I was suicidal. I had vivid visualizations of ending my life. Sadly, after speaking openly with others concerning my experience I learned that I wasn’t alone; there are many within my community, our community, the military dependent community, who are feeling similar.
As a society, we have a responsibility to help those within our community that suffer such struggles, especially when the cause is on our hands. It is the duty of America to ensure that there is proper programming both federally, publically and within the non-profit sector to adequately, effectively, and efficiently help military families that may be struggling emotionally. But this cannot be done, unless we have numbers that back such needs.
Numbers that account for the family members that search out mental health support services, the number of military family members that have attempted suicide, and sadly the number of military dependents that have committed suicide. How do we help those in need, if we aren’t aware of what the need is?
Many will say that it was known what we were getting into when we married into the military and that might be true to an extent. I knew that it might mean that there would be time apart, but I didn’t realize the emotions that would be tied to that loss. Furthermore, those that were born to servicemen and women certainly didn’t have a choice, and they too are fighting an uphill battle with their own psychological warfare. So how can we help?
The month of May is host to many things: Military Spouse Appreciation day, Military Appreciation month, and Mental Health Awareness month. It is my hope that together we can shed the light on the need for mental health tracking within the military community. You can help by reaching out in support of military family tracking, you can support non-profits that fulfill the need, and encourage corporate donors to give to the psychological needs of our countries families.