The holiday season is traditionally a time of joy, family gatherings and parties. But for some veterans, the Christmas period can be marked by increased stress, isolation and loneliness; even if they are surrounded by the comfort of their loved ones.
For those veterans who have lost mates while deployed overseas, in training exercises or in other tragic circumstances, Christmas can serve as a reminder of those who are sadly no longer with us. Veterans may be saddened thinking of their mate’s family and friends and the loss they continue to experience, particularly on Christmas Day.
The stress of large gatherings, crowded shopping centres, family pressures and the expectation imposed by Christmas marketing to be joyful this time of year can also prove very difficult for many.
Veterans may not speak up about how they are feeling. Not wanting to disappoint their families, or feeling worried about ruining the occasion, they may hide their increased stress, anxiety, isolation and loneliness from their family and friends.
As many in our Soldier On community are veterans and family members or friends of veterans, we are asking you to look out for each other this Christmas. Check in on a mate who has served or ask your loved one how they are feeling.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by Christmas, please seek assistance. There are many sources of support including our Soldier On psychologists, who will be available to provide assistance in the lead up to Christmas and who are contactable via firstname.lastname@example.org or through our Reintegration and Recovery Centres.
If you do not live near a Soldier On centre, we encourage you to see your GP. If you need support outside of business hours and over the holiday period, please contact VVCS 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046.
It is ok to put your hand up and say when you need a hand. Soldier On, other veteran support organisations and your friends and family are here to help.
From the entire psychology team at Soldier On, best wishes for the festive season. Look after yourselves and your loved ones.
To help us provide vital support services to veterans and their families, donate here – https://donation.giveeasy.org/soldier-on