Before presenting some of the ways of dealing with specific issues let me emphasize that we believe that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can by helped greatly by appropriate care.  The best gift veterans can give their family is that of getting help for their condition so that their lives can improve. 

Needs of the Veteran around the Holidays

Structure and a Sense of Control for PTSD during the Holidays

It is important to work on plans to aid the vet in gaining a sense of control during the holidays.  For many families any discussion of dealing with the symptoms of PTSD is off limits, leading to more of a sense of helplessness in dealing with the problems of PTSD. I suggest dealing with the possible problems head on and coming up with plans for helping the vet and family to stay in control. Structure and knowing what to expect and how to deal with issues that may arise can be very helpful in preventing problems from rearing their ugly head during the season.

For example, if attending a get-together, perhaps providing an escape plan beginning with certain special phrases or looks can be worked out in advance.  This helps give permission for the veteran to        leave the function early if anxiety or negative behaviors and feelings emerge. Many couples have learned that going in two cars makes this easier and also gives permission to the spouse to remain at the function even if the vet has to make an exit. Additionally, realizing that in some cases not accepting an invitation to a get-together might be best for all concerned.

Restrict Alcohol Consumption during the Holidays

Become aware of the additional problems associated with the loss of control that alcohol causes.

Take Care of the Needs of the Children during the Holidays

Take care of the needs of the kids and discuss in advance with the family how this will be accomplished.

Set up New Traditions for the Family during the Holidays

Set up new traditions for the family such as going to private places (parks, etc) that are acceptable to all. Begin with small steps, keeping in mind the problems caused by PTSD with the needs of the spouse and/or family.

But more importantly of all Get Help for PTSD.

It is the best gift that a veteran and his family can receive.


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