Do I have to talk about my combat experience to people back home?

Combat is an intensely personal experience. It may seem to you that people who have not been through it cannot possibly understand or truly relate to it, and you may be right. In your wartime service, you may have seen and done and felt things you don’t wish to relive or share with anyone. It’s understandable that talking about combat with loved ones and friends can be uncomfortable in the extreme.

When deployed, your buddies are the only ones you talk with, and there are good reasons for that. But at home your family and friends consider themselves your “buddies,” and they naturally expect that you will talk to them about what you experienced. While you may believe that you are protecting yourself (and your loved ones) by avoiding the subject of combat, they may feel in turn that you are rejecting them or you don’t trust them anymore. It’s important to see the situation from their perspective as well.

For the returning vet, some avoidance of the topic of combat experience is normal. But if it gets to the point where you are con­stantly avoiding everything that reminds you of your war zone experiences, it can create major problems in your adjustment back to civilian life. You may avoid seeing other people altogether, for fear that they will ask you about the war. Ultimately this will isolate you from others, and you will not receive the social support you need at this time from your family and friends. Don’t shut them out, but let them know, gently, that it is not the right time for you to speak about your experiences just yet. Take your time and pace yourself in opening up, in the way that feels most comfortable to you

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.