Military Families Enduring the Invisible Wounds of War

The signature wounds of the current military conflicts, known as the invisible wounds of war, are traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS). Their effects and symptoms are wide-reaching, ranging from physical to emotional and mental, and they have the ability to affect or impair all of the 5 senses. Treatments are becoming more and more available for service members who are affected by these injuries. But one aspect that is often overlooked, is how these wounds affect those closest to our service members: their families. 

Concussions (or, mild TBIs as they’re also known), can adversely impact a person’s daily routine and day-to-day life. These changes to daily activity can have a trickle down effect, leading to changes in mood and reactions. Patience is crucial in helping people conquer their injuries. Especially in stressful situations as stress can be a trigger of both TBI and PTS. Stress can also lead to frustration and anger, which can be discouraging and difficult for family members. 

One of the hallmark symptoms of PTS is avoidance. Avoidance can manifest in a number of ways, but there can be a sense of detachment, and that detachment can affect a child’s relationship with their parent, and in turn, the child’s behavior and own relationships with others.

For children, it’s important to address the changes that they may recognize in their parent, and strongly reinforce that they are not responsible for those changes. This can be a challenge for parents suffering from the invisible wounds, because there’s nothing visible or tangible to place responsibility on. The frustration that children may endure can seem directed at them, but often times it’s the result of struggles and frustrations stemming from the brain injury. It’s also important to monitor military children who are living with a parent suffering from TBI or PTS. If there are certain behavioral changes, it may be time to seek out some outside assistance for the children, too. 

For service members suffering from the invisible wounds of war, treatment centers can be challenging to find. That’s where the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund steps in. With 8 of 10 Intrepid Spirit Centers completed and operational, we’re building facilities to treat our military service members suffering from TBI and PTS. Each center is specially equipped to treat these injuries, based on an interdisciplinary model of care developed at our National Intrepid Center of Excellence. Intrepid Spirit Centers are built on public support. Make a donation today to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and our heroes suffering from the invisible wounds of war.

Posted on November 18 2019 in Blog

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