Military life is adventurous, enriching and is something to be proud of. This journey also comes with many stressors. When my husband was deployed, many of his colleagues reached out to me and made sure I was all right on the holidays, during the pandemic and while facing a hurricane. One of the greatest advantages we have is our community. There was comfort in knowing I could turn to my military family for help.
While I think it is safe to say that we are happy to help each other with most things that come up, what happens if someone comes to us in a crisis with a sudden tragedy, overwhelming incident, unexpected diagnosis or another crisis? While we may feel helpless, there are things we can do.
- Listen, don’t fix. When someone we care about is suffering, we suffer too, and our instinct is to fix the problem. In a crisis, listening without judgment is crucial. Unless the person asks you for advice or what to do, just listen.
- Try to keep your emotions in check. The last thing a person in crisis needs is to have to take care of us or apologize for overwhelming us. This can be hard, but it is best to vent our emotions to someone else.
- Never underestimate the power of your presence. Just being present and being with someone can be helpful. They may not want to talk about what the problem is, they may want to be distracted, or they may just want companionship.
- Know what resources are available.
- Military Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, then press 1, or access online chat by texting 838255.
- Veterans/Military Crisis Line: Dial 988 then press 1 or text 838255 to chat with a VA responder.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 800-799-SAFE (7233); text “START” to 88788.
- DOD Safe Helpline – Sexual Assault Support: Call 877-995-5247.
- Military OneSource Health and Wellness Resources: Call 800-342-9647.
- Be specific in offering help. The person in crisis is already overwhelmed. What can we do specifically to help instead of asking them to make another decision?
Lastly, and most importantly, we have to take care of ourselves. We need to be mindful of how we feel and make sure we do not get burned out from caring for others. Utilizing our own resources and knowing when to take a break is vital. Hopefully, we will not find ourselves in these positions too often, but if we do we have tools to help.