As he walked through the airport arrival doors, his beard was the first thing I noticed. It looked like he hadn’t shaved once during his nine-month deployment to Baghdad. Soon after Dad’s homecoming, my family realized the beard wasn’t the only change.
It was hard for him to acclimate back to the normalcy of civilian life. He found excuses to miss events such as my varsity track meet and my sister’s cheerleading competition. The simplest of tasks, such as sitting down for family dinner, irritated him. I knew he found it hard to relate to the lives of his wife and three daughters, and eventually he knew he had a problem, too. He went to counseling through the Veterans Affairs to address post-traumatic stress disorder. Within six months of therapy, I had my involved and loving father finally home.
▪ Think about the difficult environment of a war deployment, and then the challenges of having to reintegrate to civilian life. Family communication can help ease this process.
▪ Consider how many veterans return home from war with PTSD symptoms. Families of veterans can find available resources at www.ptsd.va.gov/public/where-to-get-help.asp.
▪ Check out military support groups in Pennsylvania at pafamiliesinc.org/military-families.
Bridget Carroll is a senior at Penn State studying biobehavioral health. Her father retired as a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel with 26 years of service. After living in nine different places, the family is permanently and happily located in Marshfield, Massachusetts. The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides monthly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between and among fathers and parents. For more information, or to join local conversations, contact Marc McCann at firstname.lastname@example.org.