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Not All Wounds Can Be Seen: Military Families Share Wounds as Service Members Transition to Life Back Home

Father hugging family

Photo by Sam Shore

It’s common for service members and their families to experience stress as a result of deployment and other life transitions. Service members and their families are not alone. Resources like the Real Warriors Campaign exist to support families’ overall well-being.

The campaign, an initiative through the Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE) is a public education initiative designed to encourage help-seeking behavior for service members, veterans and military families coping with invisible wounds. The tools and resources available through the campaign promote the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration for returning service members, veterans and their families.

The website offers articles and practical tips for spouses and families of service members aimed to cover all aspects of military life and the deployment cycle, including articles about how to adjust to changes, preparing for homecomings, and how to help children cope with deployments and reunions.

Additional resources through campaign partners offer services and support for families of service members for coping with deployment, locating support and obtaining military benefits. They include:

  • Sesame Workshop's Talk, Listen, Connect initiative uses the friendly and familiar Muppet characters to provide resources for military families with young children coping with issues related to deployments, changes from combat-related injuries and the death of a parent. On www.SesameStreetFamilyConnections.org, you can find extensive video and print resources on these topics, or use child-friendly tools to create a family network and stay connected.
  • Blue Star Families provides online and physical chapter-based communities to bridge families with support and service organizations that help make military life more sustainable.
  • The National Military Family Association educates military families concerning their rights, benefits and services available to them, and to inform them regarding the issues that affect their lives. NMFA provides resources and programs to educate the public, the military community and Congress on the rights and benefits of military families, and to advocate an equitable quality of life for those families. NMFA sponsors Operation Purple® Camps for children of deployed service members in many U.S. military communities around the world.
  • FOCUS helps military families meet the challenges of deployment and reintegration by offering resiliency training and teaching practical skills. Through state-of-the-art family resiliency services, the organization's programs guide families on how to effectively communicate and solve problems, set goals together and create a shared family story.

Families looking for additional support can reach out to trained health consultants at the Psychological Health Resource Center through the Live Chat feature on the campaign website, or by calling 866-966-1020, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All families of service members should know that they should feel comfortable reaching out to service members’ units and other military and national organizations for support. Reaching out is a sign of strength that benefits your family and your service member.

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