Veteran Dependents and Public Scrutiny - Premier Counseling
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Veteran Dependents and Public Scrutiny

By: Kristy Burton, LPC-S, AADC, SAP, NCC, TA


Veteran Dependents and Public Scrutiny


Veteran dependents, spouses, children, and families of veterans are not immune to the public scrutiny and stigma that comes with rejoining the civilian world. While veterans are more likely to face more severe challenges with their cultural competence as well, that doesn’t exclude families and loved ones from experiencing those difficulties themselves.


Besides acclimating to the uncertainty and oddity of returning to civilian life, families and dependents of veterans may be faced with a much less than glamorous welcome home. This can be an emotionally isolating experience, so talking about it is paramount for everyone’s health and happiness.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

The Inevitability of Misunderstanding


In last week’s blog post, the issues of public scrutiny and stigma were discussed. This is mostly in regard to civilians not understanding why someone would join and serve, or subscribing to one or both beliefs that all veterans have committed harm against innocent people, or that every veteran is suffering from severe mental illness. 


It’s not uncommon for the same assumptions to also be cast upon dependents and spouses.


There are so many facets to active duty military life, it’s simply impossible for a civilian to understand without having experienced it. 


As you’re re-acclimating to civilian life, you may find yourself unable to convey your experiences in a meaningful way to someone who can in no way relate. This isn’t a shortcoming on your part, it’s just a very vast social chasm to try and bridge.

Photo by Neroli Wesley

What to Bear in Mind


First and foremost, you and your veteran don’t owe anyone justifications or explanations about your time in the military. These were private, personal decisions, and you aren’t required to share that information with anyone for any reason other than if you feel safe doing so and want to. 


There may be instances you find yourself talking to someone you felt safe with initially, and then their demeanor changes when you share some aspect of your time with your spouse or family in the military. 


You may be met with people who ask insensitive, probing questions about your personal history, the military history of your partner or family member, and make judgments and assumptions about your or their mental stability. 


Be firm in maintaining your boundaries, and protect your peace. 


Some people may need polite reminding that these deeply personal aspects of your life and history are not for public consumption. 

Photo by Rosie Sun

Finding Support


Living alongside a veteran, having experienced staying at home when they deploy, worrying after them or shared children during long absences, and acclimating to the militant way of life may leave you isolated in the civilian world.


Your experiences as a veteran dependent or partner will have changed you at a fundamental level; this can be an isolating, alienating feeling, so be sure to keep your support systems close and informed. 


Be sure to connect with other spouses and families that have since left the military. Spending time around people who have similar shared experiences will help in making you feel not so alone in these new social struggles. 


There will be times you miss what the military provided for you and your family, and while it’s normal to grieve the past, it’s important not to ruminate too long in it. Keep your focus here in the present as much as you’re able.


There are a multitude of therapeutic approaches that can help you and your veteran during this time, so call our team to schedule an appointment if you’re feeling like you could use that extra support. We’re so glad to serve you, and there are so many resources available to help you through this bumpy transition, so don’t hesitate to give a call and make a visit.

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