I remember growing up in the 80s, noticing just how many, mostly action movies, but definitely more than a few dramatic representations of the aftermath of the Vietnam War on our servicemen. I was introduced to First Blood by a small town pastor that lived near us when he played it for my six year old self and my ten year old brother.
It was loads of fun for two prepubescent adolescents enthralled with the kick-butt-and-take-no-names action pic. John Rambo’s lack of acceptance in society, particularly by a veteran peace officer flew right over my head. His intense struggle with PTSD displayed at the onset of the action and in the heart wrenching final moments of the film were oblivious to me in my young age.
Most of what I remember from those days was the action of Rambo, First Blood Part 2 and the Missing in Action series. I watched other movies like Born on the Fourth of July, but their dramatic themes and real life ramifications went well beyond my understanding.
Let’s just say I missed the incredible struggles of the aftermath of Vietnam on our servicemen through cinema. However, I did not miss it at home. I lived it.
During my childhood years, I knew my own difficult plight of physical and emotional abuse delivered by my own father’s hands (a Vietnam Veteran). Our family experienced a nomadic lifestyle moving six to twelve times a year on average. Learning how to survive that not so nurturing environment would be unbelievably difficult for any kid, but particularly for me, a self-described highly sensitive introvert that hides it well (sometimes).
As an adult, I have watched dramatic portrayals of the aftermath of war on veterans and their families like in the movie, Brothers. Let’s just say, if you are not ready to have your heart ripped out, don’t watch it. American Sniper had a similar effect on me as an adult..
Most of these stories focus on the difficulty that the veterans have returning from war and struggling with PTSD among other things. Their challenges are heart wrenching and the need to support these men and women is great.
I can only imagine.
While I did serve four years in the Marines myself, I did not experience battle. I did not experience war. I still struggle at times from my own Marine Corps experience so I can only imagine what it would be like for these heroes.
I say all that to say when I watch these types of movies now, as difficult as it is to watch what they go through, my attention is focused elsewhere.
I see the family.
I see their response to the hero’s struggle. I see their victimization. I see their own struggle. I see their failures. I see their plight.
And my heart goes out to them.
Most of the time, the support that is extended post wartime service is extended to the veteran and deservedly so. Our veterans need our support. They need to be honored. They need to be thanked. We need community resources for these men and women to overcome the PTSD and many other mental and emotional struggles they have when they come home.
But, most of the time, what is missing are the extended resources for their families. Without much direct knowledge of the current state of affairs, I have certainly noticed that there are some resources for military families today. I’ve had my eye on a job posting or two on positions that support them directly.
What I haven’t noticed are resources and support for the families of veterans (as opposed to current members of the military). The Veterans Administration seems to provide a lot of resources and support for the veterans themselves, but what about their families? I’ve noticed community resources for the veterans, but what about the wife and kids?
Maybe, I’m just missing them. Are they out there? What are they? How do they qualify?
What do you think? Did you have a family member that served in wartime? What resources or support would have been helpful to you? to your family?
Read more about my life story in my memoir, NEVER SETTLED.