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How can I talk to my loved ones about combat experiences?

When you return home from military service, it takes time to feel comfortable with your family again. It’s not unusual to feel disconnected at first, and not want to talk about your experiences in combat. You may be concerned that what you have to say will be distressing to your loved ones. Or you may worry that they won’t understand. On the other hand, your loved ones might be asking so many questions that it feels intrusive and you don’t even want to respond. Give yourself time to get reacquainted and re-build trust and security. You don’t have to talk about your combat experiences until you are ready.

In the meantime, reassure your loved ones so they don’t feel shut out. Let them know that combat is an extremely personal subject, and you need time and space to process it for yourself. Assure them that at some point you may be able to share with them what you went through. And, if they decide they don’t want to know, don’t take it personally or feel hurt by that. Give them time as well. There’s no need to rush this process.

A word of caution: If you have been feeling numb and isolated from your loved ones, avoiding talking to them most of the time, and avoiding places or activities because they remind you of combat, ask your doctor about an assessment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Avoidance of communication, emotions, or activity for more than a couple of months after return from deployment could be symptoms of PTSD.

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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.