Soldiers Suffering Mental Health Problems Has Become a Hot Topic Across the United States
Family members with deployed soldiers are more than excited when hearing their loved one is returning home from duty. The soldiers themselves are excited to return home and see their family and friends. This feeling has the soldier and his or her family members on cloud nine. This state of emotion can last from a week to a month, but then what happens?
Real life sets in and these soldiers are forced to become civilians. Trying to find your way around or your place in this world can be difficult for these returning soldiers. When you are trained to act a certain way for your job, it can change how you view things and act as a person. Soldiers suffering mental health problems has become a huge issue.
“There’s a sense of disconnection,” explains Brunskill, a researcher addressing this issue. She continues, “The wife or family thinks they’re getting the same guy back.” This is not the case. These soldiers have endured and witnessed countless things, that their family and friends may not be able to relate to. This creates a disconnection within the relationship. When the family realizes the returning soldier is different and more distant, they want to put the blame on someone or something. They will try to find a way to fix the situation, at all costs.
Transitioning back to a civilian life is considered a normal part of the process and is view as being difficult. While some soldiers struggle with this concept, others simply cannot. Social intensity syndrome is what this struggle is called.
The military culture trains its soldiers to prepare for war, but there is no emphasis on social skills or how to separate the battlefield from your family life. They deemphasize emotion and the idea of being an individual, with individual thoughts. They focus on bonding as a group and altruism for the greater cause. While these are not bad traits, when they soldiers return they are having trouble with not being around their troop members and shifting back into an individual. It proves to be a difficult process to shed that perspective. Civilian jobs and even life may seem boring and these soldiers may fight this assimilation with everything they have.
Social intensity syndrome syptoms include a strong need to be around other men in similar standing, isolating themselves from civilians, poor bonding with family and friends upon their return, and participating in high-risk activities. Returning solders resort to high risk behaviors, similar to excessive drinking, engaging in fights, or doing drugs. This is their way of coping with their new problems, while re-create the high or feeling of the battlefield.
“They’re drawn toward male-dominated things,” says Brunskill through her findings. She continues, “And they have a sense of nostalgia, of wanting to go back, remembering all the good times in the military and forgetting the bad times.” With a new light being shed on this problem, hopefully these soldiers and family members will take the time to address the issue and receive help.