Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast. Today. I wanted to try something different. See how it goes. Starting with this episode, I’m going to be doing a few shorter. Solo episodes. Episodes that you can listen to easily on the way to work in the gym or wherever you have a few minutes to listen to them.
The goal with these episodes is to provide quick advice or inspiration. To either veterans service members or their families.
And I’ll probably try to keep them under 20 minutes. I don’t want to give you so much information that you feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose, [00:01:00] but I want the information that I do give you to be meaningful. So we’ll see how that works. I’m not totally committed to any time limit at this point 20 minutes, maybe it’s 15. Maybe it’s even longer. I don’t know.
This is the first of hopefully many episodes like this. So please let me know what you think either. In the comment section for this episode on the DriveOnPodcast.com website send me an email. Through the website or a message on social media at Drive On Podcast on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
LinkedIn, YouTube send a message through any of those. And let me know what you think. Let me know if you think the content is useful to you. If you’d like those episodes to be longer or shorter. I could probably split some of the topics up into multiple episodes. If you like shorter, bite-size.
Type bits either way, let me know what you think I’m looking forward to doing more of these episodes and seeing how it resonates with you guys in the audience. So, with that, oh, and before I forget.
Please, please, please. I’d like to ask for more reviews on [00:02:00] this podcast. The way you do it is by going to Apple Podcasts. If you’re on an iPhone or some other apple device and search for Drive On Podcast. There should be a section for ratings and reviews on there somewhere. And click the five star option and leave a brief review.
A few words, a couple of sentences, maybe it doesn’t have to be long. Just something telling people what you think. About the podcast. That would be great. And if you’re like me and you don’t use any apple devices, you can download iTunes on windows, computers, or other devices. You could download that iTunes for free.
And leave. Review through there. You can also do it on Spotify too, but I think you can only do that if you have listened to an episode on their service before. So after this episode is over go and do that. If you’re not listening on Spotify right now, maybe switch over to Spotify. Check out Drive On Podcast or subscribe listened to this episode there. And then afterwards you can click to leave a review, a rating review.
I’m not sure if any other podcast [00:03:00] platforms have a place to leave reviews, but if you find one, give it a go there too. Okay. So. This episode. I’m going to be talking about. The role of family in supporting veterans. And. It’s important to have a support system in place when you’re a veteran. And when I say family in this context, I’m of course.
Referring to a spouse, children, parents, siblings, and other traditional family members that you might be thinking about. But I also recognize that not every family looks the same. The people that you consider to be family. May. Not have any blood relations to you whatsoever. They may not even be legally connected to you. As far as a spouse is a legal connection there. That’s fine too.
You know who your family is, who the people you’re close to, who you trust that you. Care for as a brother, as a sister, as a mother, as a father, those types of people, you know who your family is. And when I’m referring to the, from family, those are the people I’m talking about. In this episode.
So we’re going to talk [00:04:00] about the impact of military service on veterans and their families. The importance of. Having a family support network there for the veterans. Ways that families can support their. Veterans and the loved ones. And challenges. That families face when they’re supporting the veterans and how to overcome those challenges.
There are some unique challenges that veterans and their families face when. You think about. Things like deployments, like most families. In America, don’t have to deal with things like a deployment where there’s their spouse or some other family member. Their loved one is. Deployed to a foreign land potentially in hostile territory where you don’t know from one day to the next, are they gonna come home? You know, that, that type of thing.
Caused a lot of stress on the family. Not only does it cause stress on the service member who is overseas away from their family away [00:05:00] from their support network, but it causes a lot of stress for the families that are left back home. Things like A spouse that has to pick up the slack on the parenting duties and now has to do double duty because the other parent isn’t around.
You know, that, that kind of thing causes a lot of stress on the families. And so that’s something fairly unique to the military. The moving every few years you know, that’s another thing that most families don’t necessarily have to think about. You can settle down in one area and not really ever have to think about moving for the rest of your life in most cases, but in the military.
The military tells you where to go. And you may be moving every couple of years and that’s. That’s an added stress. I mean, Having a friends network of people that you can. Talk to and. Hang out with. Grab a beer with go watch a movie with go watch a. Sporting event with all of those things. Are really difficult to do when you don’t have that network in place. Right? Because there so many people [00:06:00] are moving all the time. It’s hard to make those friends when, you know,
In less than two years, you’re probably going to be moving someplace else again. And also finding employment for the same reasons. You know, you’re looking for a job. You may be college educated. I’m married to a service member and you’re moving all over the place and it’s hard to find a job when you know, you’re not going to be.
In that area for more than a couple of years. A lot of times employers don’t want to hire somebody like that. They want somebody who’s going to be there for the long haul and that’s really difficult. So there’s some unique challenges there for veterans and their families there, but and there’s also some mental health issues that are experienced by veterans and those things can affect the family relationship.
Veterans have a higher rate of mental health issues like PTSD, depression, and other types of things like that. This can lead to things like angry outbursts. I know I had my fair share of those. When I came back from Afghanistan, that [00:07:00] was really difficult. I didn’t know how to control some of these things.
And that had a negative impact on the family. Mental health issues like these. Can make veterans want to be isolated. They just get away from everybody. Even from their families because they feel like either they. Don’t want to be a burden to their family, or nobody else understands where I’m coming from. And I don’t want to be around those types of people.
And you know, veterans with PTSD are more likely to report problems. Like marriage or relationship problems, parenting problems, poor family functioning, dysfunctional relationships. That type of stuff. And it’s something that, that also takes place. Due to the mental health issues. Experienced by the veterans.
And. We talked about deployment just a little bit ago. And when I deployed to Afghanistan, I was a new father. I didn’t know how to be a dad. My son was born about a month and a half or so before I deployed to Afghanistan. So I [00:08:00] really didn’t know how to be a dad. I was in pre deployment training.
I was around him for about 10 days and then I was gone. And quite frankly, nobody knows how to be a dad when their first kid is born. But you sort of figure it out as you go along, but I wasn’t there to figure that stuff out. And when I returned home, my wife was already about nine months into being a mother. She.
Nine months into that, figuring it out phase. And so she had that nine month headstart on me and I felt like I maybe didn’t really know my role in the household. The dynamic had shifted quite a bit where it used to just be my wife and me. Now we had this. New little kid who we had to take care of. And I didn’t know really where I fit in the whole equation.
The one thing that I will say that my wife did incredibly well, was she. She made it a point to make it so that I didn’t feel like I had to jump in and just dive into the deep end without learning how to tread water first. And so she let me [00:09:00] kind of gradually get back into the parenting role that I ultimately wound up in. But it wasn’t like she just pushed me into the deep end. So, I think that’s one thing that is super important that families can do to help the veteran who’s coming back home is a lot of them to kind of slowly ease back into things and figure out where their.
They fit in to the family. Other veterans are going to experience similar situations where maybe. An older child steps up and becomes a, the man of the house or the woman of the house. While their parent is away and when mom or dad gets back They may not know where they fit in anymore. Very similar to the situation that I described with me. Right. So, So when you think about this, there’s. It’s important for the family to be there and support the veterans. There’s research studies that demonstrate the benefits of family support for veterans. The. National. Vietnam veterans readjustment study, compared veterans with PTSD to those without PTSD.
And those findings showed that Vietnam veterans with [00:10:00] PTSD got divorced twice as much. We’re three times more likely to divorce two or more times and tended to have shorter relationships. And PTSD can affect the mental health and the satisfaction of a veterans partner. Right. So it doesn’t just affect the veteran.
It can also affect the. The partner in that relationship? The same research that I was talking about before. On the Vietnam veterans, compared partners of veterans with, and without PTSD and the partners. Of the Vietnam veterans with PTSD reported lower levels of happiness, less satisfaction in their lives.
More discouragement. Or demoralization. And about half fell on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So obviously that’s not the place that we want to be. Right. So we want to take care of these issues. We don’t want to be the, be a burden on our families. We want to. Take care of these issues and fix them so that we can be that they are for the families. Right.
So, you know, [00:11:00] how can the family support.
And. Help the veteran recover. And reintegrate back into. They’re family. The first step, I think, for these people that the spouses or other family members of these veterans, maybe with PTSD is too. Just figuring out. What the problem is gather some information. I’m not saying that you need to be a.
Mental health, professional and diagnose and things like this. But just get some information first on. What is actually going on and try to learn more about things like PTSD yourself. So that way you can say, okay, well maybe this is what’s going on with this veteran.
This helps you give you a better understanding of what PTSD actually is. How it impacts families. And and things along those lines. Right? So, so what are some of the things that families can do to support their veteran? Loved ones. First off, I think. And most important thing to any relationship, any thing that’s going on is [00:12:00] communication.
For the family members and loved ones of a veteran. Who might be struggling. If you’re not sure where to start, you can get help. Through the VA, they have a program called coaching into care. And I’ll have a link to this in the show notes of this episode as well, but the VA’s coaching into care program. And through that program, there’s licensed psychologists and social workers who offer guidance and help for starting these conversations with the veteran in your life about their mental health or substance abuse.
And in ways to motivate them to seek treatment, if you think it’s needed. These conversations are not easy to get, to have the AR. Difficult. When you’re dealing with someone who is not the same person who you’re used to dealing with and. You are trying to. Help them, obviously, you love them. You want them to get the help that they need.
But it’s hard when they’re not the same type of person that you’re used to. So. Ways that you can provide some emotional support [00:13:00] for these people. For these veterans who are coming back with maybe. Difficult issues, PTSD, that type of thing. First and foremost, I think. It’s important for everyone to just be patient.
Even if you reach out to the VA. The coaching into care program and get some advice and assistance. I think they’ll probably tell you this too, but be patient. You’re probably going to have to talk to your loved one more than once. In order for them to. Come to a realization that they need to get some help.
So don’t. Try it once don’t ask them to go get some help and then. Give up because. They refused or they didn’t want to hear it or they shut down or something you may need to in a non nagging kind of way. You may need to approach. The subject more than once. You know, don’t argue with them though. Don’t.
Braid them. And don’t. You know, Tell them that they’re [00:14:00] stupid or, you know, anything like that for acting the way they’re acting. Let them know that you’re willing to listen to them. And you’re willing to just be there to listen and not necessarily offer advice if are looking for it. You know, if you’re listening you’re just there to take in the information in. Kind of help you understand where they’re coming from. It also kind of helps them to get stuff off their chest and get it out there in the open. May not be the easiest thing to do. So if you’re sharpshooting them and you’re trying to you know,
Invalidate what they’re feeling or their emotions or whatever, like that’s not going to help. And then they’re going to shut down and they’re not going to want to talk anymore. So, so let them know that you’re willing to listen. And just be there if they want advice, if they want help. Then go ahead and you can give it at that point because they’re asking for it. But.
At that initial stage. You’re not there to give advice. You’re just there to listen. And when you’re having these conversations, try not to have distractions You know, if you can. If you can put obviously [00:15:00] things like your phones and stuff like that, put those electronics away. But if you can send the kids out to play or, you know, wait til after bedtime or something like that. So, so that way.
You’re constantly getting interrupted because. I know it could be frustrated when you’re in the middle of something. It’s really hard for you to even get to that point to even. Start having this conversation about whatever it is that you’re dealing with. And. Then you get all these distractions. And then you kind of feel like, you know what, nevermind. It doesn’t matter.
That is not the place that you want to be in. You want to get rid of those distractions before you have this conversation. And then. Hopefully you’ll be able to get through this conversation. But don’t make this a, you know, hour long, two hour long. Full-on blowout kind of thing.
I just limit it to 10, 20 minutes. Whatever whenever you and the veteran is comfortable with Limited to that, because that may be [00:16:00] too much too. I sit there and talk even for 20 minutes, it might be too much. It may not be something that they’re willing or able to do. Yeah, try to make sure that things that.
Might be triggering to them are avoided. So, you know, maybe it’s loud noises, maybe it’s watching a war movie or whatever. Triggers that you’ve noticed in this person try to avoid those things for the time being. You know, there may be a time and place where exposure to those things is. Useful or perhaps even necessary. But you know, in this initial stage, you want to try to avoid those things.
But also as a family member Tell the veteran, how you feel about some of the stuff without. Necessarily. You know, kind of. Forcing things like make it flow kind of naturally into the conversation, but I don’t know how you feel because you know, they, maybe they’re acting in a way that they feel is totally reasonable and rational.
But it may make you feel uncomfortable. But let them know. And that might be something that just helps them. Kind of wrap their head around [00:17:00] what it is that they’re doing. You know, try to. Try to do things with them. Don’t. Don’t let them just totally isolate themselves, but don’t force them into big social gathering, social outings and stuff like that. Like.
I know for me, I’m not one to go out and into big crowds. I just don’t enjoy it. It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like doing it. You know, don’t push into those types of situation.
So there are some, also some effective strategies for treatment that. You might want to keep in the back of your mind. So things like education for the whole family about the effects of things like PTSD. And trauma, other trauma and things like that on the veteran you know,
And there are. Resources out there that will Educate you on how this will affect the whole family and what the best steps are for that. There’s support groups for families. There’s support groups for the veterans themselves. There’s individual. [00:18:00] Therapies and support groups. You know, for those individuals. But there’s also groups for for the couples or for the children or things like that, where.
They get together and they help each other out. You know, obviously there’s family counseling and things along those lines. But there’s PTSD programs in vet centers that offer group a couple individual counseling for. For family members of the veterans in the veterans themselves, obviously.
So definitely check those out. I mean, some of those resources are are definitely something to consider. Because. You know, oftentimes if you’re going it alone, you may just feel like you are. Just barely treading water and not able to Not able to gain any traction. You may need that little bit of help.
May not be a long-term thing for you. Maybe it is. I don’t know. You know, every situation’s going to be different, but you know, it’s worth a shot. See how you like it. See how it helps. Maybe it’s really good. Maybe it’s not for you, but at least give it a [00:19:00] try. So that way, you know, you know, what is the best thing for you?
Yeah. And so there’s some challenges that you’re going to face along the way. I mean, Initially your. You’re certainly going to have some concern, maybe some worry or panic. You might feel, especially as a spouse, you might feel lonely because it’s like, I don’t. Have that person who I used to be able to talk to.
It certainly creates feelings of loneliness, especially if you’re one of those families who’s moving from base to base all over the place. And you don’t have that support network there.
And it and stress too, right? There’s stress involved when your family member is deployed and you have these additional duties and responsibilities taking care of the house, taking care of the kids, taking care of You know, things like that. You know, and I’m saying spouse, but you know, there’s other family situations where the, maybe the grandparents are taking care of the kids when they’re there.
Son or daughter is deployed. Right. So, you know, it’s [00:20:00] not just the spouse again, when I say family I’m referring to. All of the people who you consider family. In this. In your particular relationships. You know, It could be any anyone. I’m just right now thinking of the traditional type of family, but I certainly understand, like, not every family looks exactly the same. And you may have different people who are feeling the stress in your lives. so um you know these are things that you’re going to experience if you have some Situation with your veteran Who maybe is disabled to some extent and you have to provide care for them as a caretaker You could also experience some sort of burnout right I mean you’re taking care of yourself and then you also have this other person that you have to take care of who maybe you never had to take care of them before in this way maybe. maybe they can’t walk maybe they can’t do certain things on their own and you now have to do that for them you’re now the caretaker for them. If that’s the case if your [00:21:00] family is in that situation where you are caring for a loved one Oh Man That’s It’s tough but You can also you can play an important role in providing support for the recovery of this veteran i’ve said this on the show before though that When you’re on an airplane they always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping other people who are around you so if you’re traveling with a child something like that you put your mask on first then you help the child as much as that may be counterintuitive because it was apparent I know my first instinct has helped my kid I want them to be Safe I want them to be helped but If you think about it If you don’t put your oxygen mask on first and they’re scared and they’re panicking and they don’t. They are fighting you as you’re trying to help them you’re going to end up passing out from the lack of oxygen and then you won’t be able to help them and you won’t be able to help yourself and you both will be in trouble right so [00:22:00] very similar situation to to this where you might be dealing with a situation where you’re a caretaker now you’re thrown into this Situation you weren’t expecting it this was not a what you had envisioned when your loved one you either deployed or You know, Went to work that day and came back with some terrible injuries and they’re disabled Think of it the same way as getting on a plane with those oxygen masks when those things fall down you have to take care of yourself it may sound selfish to say it that way but you have to it’s the same exact thing when you’re caring for a veteran a few ways you could take care of yourself. As a caretaker and this also this isn’t just necessarily for physical care there’s mental health care too. and this is stressful for the families as we were talking about as well but the first thing that you could do is just accept help from people if there’s someone who’s Offering to help you out with something that you might consider is you know, quote unquote your job Let them help you know if it’s taking your veteran [00:23:00] to doctor’s appointment right? Okay yeah yeah you could take them. Take them to the appointment and w. And that would be a huge weight off of your shoulders because then you can spend time doing some of the other stuff that you need to do maybe just stuff for yourself that you’ve been neglecting and be realistic too about what you’re actually able to provide for the veteran if you have a job and you work nine to five you can’t agree to be there for them in the middle of the afternoon it’s just not possible you’re not there so set those boundaries up front and let them know what it is that you’re able to provide so that way there’s not some sort of false expectations going on and make time for yourself as I was saying before scheduled time to go out with friends or even just spend time alone I know for me sometimes I need to recharge my batteries and just spend sometime alone It’s not selfish it’s same idea is taking care of yourself first with the oxygen mask on an airplane take a little time to unwind And Get your batteries [00:24:00] recharged And Super important Keep up with your physical health Few reasons It first off I mean it’s easy to let your exercise routine slip when you’re caring for somebody else you now have added responsibilities where are you going to find the time Make the time you only have one body and it’s not getting any younger unfortunately None of those none. none. of ours are but take the time to keep up with your physical health And The reasons why I say that is because if there’s A situation where your veteran is physically disabled they may need help with things like getting out of bed Putting their clothes on things like that you may need physical strength to be able to help Move them or things along those lines and that’s there’s that physical benefit but there’s also the mental benefit when you go for a walk go for a run ride a bike lift weights or whatever Any sort of physical exercise As a therapeutic benefit for you It helps you [00:25:00] release stress it helps you unwind it helps it just helps overall and you’ll be Not only will you be better For that but you’ll be better capable of helping care for your veteran as well so keep up with that Okay I know I went oh wow I went a little bit over that 20 minute mark that I was talking about so again like I said I was not entirely sure how long this was going to end up lasting Maybe 30 minutes is the right number I don’t know we’ll see So For the families Yeah This episode Kinda. Kind of went more towards the family members as opposed to the veterans but for the veterans out there know that you’re not the only one who is feeling the stress of things that you might be dealing with the ptsd and stuff like that. Your family might be feeling it too and they want to help And you have to let them help you’re not gonna you’re not gonna just figure it out on your own yeah maybe you could but the chances the likelihood of things just getting worse Are much higher and [00:26:00] so I think you know, it’s a whole lot better to accept the help and let them be there for you because That’s what family’s for right and again it doesn’t matter what your family looks like it doesn’t matter if you’re married or if you just have a Boyfriend or girlfriend or maybe you have none of that and you just have your parents or a sibling or aunts and uncles or w. Whoever You consider family those people want to help you they care about you. They want to see you do well they want to see you thrive not just get better to some baseline thing they want to see you get great So you have to let them And for the families who Might be dealing with the veterans Nope. It’s difficult I know I was Not the easiest person to deal with when I first came home But without my family I don’t know where I would be honestly I it. it. would’ve probably looked a whole lot different my my future would have been a whole lot different [00:27:00] than it is now Be there for them And get the help Not only that they need But get the help that you need as well there are resources out there for you as well And With that I think that’s going to conclude this episode talking about the role of family In supporting veterans hopefully this has been helpful again leave a comment on the website the DriveOnPodcast.com. Send me an email or a message on social media at Drive On Podcast and remember please to go leave a five-star rating and review for Drive On Podcast on either Apple Podcast or Spotify I really would appreciate that.
Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.[00:28:00]