If you have a son or daughter in uniform, you worry about them -- especially during deployment. But what do you do when a Marine Mom is convinced her child is coming home in a body bag?
Dan wrote us recently because his wife is inconsolable at the thought of their son being injured or killed during his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Dan wrote:
He called Mother's Day morning and she cried for an hour afterwards. When someone asks about him at work she cries. She hears something on the radio and cries.Dan wants to know what other parents have done in this situation. Is this normal? Do moms get over it quickly? How do you handle that kind of fear? What really helps?
This has been going on for six months and I know it is only going to get worse as the date gets closer.
She has always been an emotional person but this is off the charts even for her. I have tried giving her survival stats but that doesn't concern a mother that thinks her son will be the one to come home in a body bag. I have told her she needs to talk with someone, psychologist, support group--someone.
Deployment can trigger depression in military parents.At Spousebuzz, we know that everyone reacts differently to the stresses of military life. Because Dan noted that this reaction was “off the charts even for her,” I reached out to our own Ms. Vicki, a counselor who works extensively with military members and their families.
Ms. Vicki pointed out that this mom sounds like she is experiencing some symptoms of depression. Since the symptoms have lasted more than two weeks and seem to be intensifying, she needs to talk to her doctor. Dan can help by attending the appointment with her to make sure the issue is addressed.
If they live near any military base, military parents are also allowed to use the Military Family Life Consultant program. MFLCs are counselors who are trained to help families come up with solutions to cope with the stresses of military life. They keep no written records. They can meet with you in a neutral place. The service is free. And they have lots of experience with all kinds of military families.
Military families can connect to the unit.No Marine wants his or her parents calling their unit commander to chat—any more than you would want your Marine to call your boss and talk about you. Yet we all recognize that a combat deployment is no ordinary job.
Consequently, most units have set up a way for parents and partners and spouses to keep in touch with activities and resources. Your Marine will have a Family Readiness Officer (FRO) in place—ask your Marine to sign you up for their mailing list.
Also, search Facebook for the most active group for your unit. Many of the Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) have the best Facebook pages out there. They often publish photos of the Marines in training. And reading the posts from other well-wishing parents can make you feel more connected.
Military parents can reach out to experts.The National Military Family Association has collected benefits and resources for concerned parents. Michelle Joyner of NMFA points out that reading really does help parents put their concerns in order. She recommends:
Your Soldier, Your Army by Vicki Cody
Military parents can reach out to each other.MarineParents.com offers online chat rooms for parents and occasional chat nights with Dr. Bridget Cantrell, a licensed psychologist who specializes in treating combat vets. An online support group can help you connect with other people who are like you and can help you identify solutions.
If you are a parent who has experienced worry during a deployment, or if your servicemember has a parent who gets extremely worried during deployment, we would be interested in hearing your stories. What else can Dan do to help his wife? Your input is always appreciated.