Veterans of the armed forces are celebrated members of their communities. However, Veterans Day can be difficult for many, especially those who have lost something or someone during active duty. While some may find it difficult to celebrate the holiday due to injuries incurred or traumas experienced in an active war zone, others may find it difficult due to other profound feelings of loss because of war. Despite the holiday looking to champion the memories and actions of armed heroes, it can be a challenging time for those who have lived through the tragedies of war. Therefore celebrating Veterans Day as a veteran requires a unique approach.

Acknowledging Trauma

Even if Veterans Day is meant to celebrate the heroism, bravery, and patriotism of members of the armed forces, it is just as much a time of mourning for those who have lived through active duty during wartime. The lines between Veterans Day and Memorial Day can be blurry for veterans, as the two often go hand-in-hand. Having a plan for Veterans Day means being ready to acknowledge the traumas of one’s experiences, despite any commercial imagery typically associated with the holiday. However, using Veteran’s Day as a catalyst to honor fellow veterans and address their feelings of loss can be instrumental in creating an effective plan for navigating the holiday. 

This holiday can come packaged with incredible stress. Turning to the use of alcohol, drugs, or other self-destructive habits is common for veterans as they navigate the holiday and its connections to their traumatic experiences. From PTSD to feelings of grief, depression, and much more, Veterans Day is a very trying time for those the holiday is supposed to celebrate. Both veterans and their loved ones should acknowledge the trials the holiday presents and the personal traumas associated with it to create a healthy plan for the holiday. 

During this holiday season, it is essential to highlight the availability of drug and alcohol inpatient treatment centers. No matter how severe one’s substance use may be, know that treatment is available and recovery is possible.

Creating Your Own Plan for Veterans Day

There are many ways to celebrate Veterans Day, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to navigate this time. Each November 11th, one can choose how they want to celebrate. However, regardless of if one wants to actively reminisce about their time in service or take a somber moment to remember fellow countrymen, having a plan is crucial for navigating the holiday. 

Get Together With Peers

Veteran peers play an important role in civilian life. It can be difficult to connect with others who have not lived through similar situations or life experiences, especially the associated traumas resulting from active duty. Peers can help an individual come together with others in solidarity with a goal. 

For some, taking time to share war stories or anecdotes from one’s time on base can be a great way to feel connected to an understanding community, bringing feelings of acceptance around a day to celebrate veterans. However, others may use Veterans Day to mourn the loss of fellow service members. If this is the case, getting together with peers can create a community that truly understands and honors the weight of such sacrifice in a way that others may not. 

Using veteran support groups and veteran-specific trauma and addiction recovery communities can connect an individual with these peers, ensuring that one doesn’t have to navigate these difficult feelings or feelings of loss in isolation.

Create Traditions

Veterans Day can also be a time to explore new traditions associated with one’s time in service. Embracing a new hobby from one’s time in service or using the time to look back, honor fallen peers, and create new traditions based on honor, respect, and solidarity can be incredibly beneficial. Watching a fallen veteran’s favorite movie or engaging in their favorite interests can be a great way to honor and respect these incredible people, all while keeping Veterans Day intentional.

Creating traditions can also be celebratory. Veterans Day can be a day to go out for a nice meal or engage in one’s favorite hobbies. Using the day to disconnect from daily stresses and focus wholly on the intent behind the holiday can open an individual up to a plethora of opportunities to explore new traditions, hobbies, and experiences in civilian life. Taking the time to participate in Veterans Day can ensure the holiday retains its original celebratory intentions. 

Take Time to Connect

Veterans and those who have served in any branch of the armed forces can suffer from a unique type of disconnect. Intense differences in lifestyle, experiences, and more can all make it difficult to connect to others truly. However, the usual gestures of support and gratitude, such as saying “thank you for your service,” can come across as a token, regardless of how genuine one may intend the gesture to be. 

Celebrating Veterans Day means listening to those who have served. For some, this can be listening to their needs and stories, while others may want to listen to how veterans themselves would prefer to celebrate the holiday. It is not always a time of unconditional happiness and festivities, and it can be a difficult and complex holiday for many veterans to navigate. Working with them to create a healthy approach to the holiday, either in remembrance or jubilance, is the best way to make an effective plan for the holiday.

Veterans Day presents several unique challenges for veterans, and we at Hawaii Island Recovery are ready to help. We understand these holidays’ difficulties, and our dedicated veteran programs are curated to address these unique challenges in civilian life. We are a proven and effective center for alcohol and drug treatment, personalizing each recovery journey and addressing the emotional needs of each individual. Our trauma-informed staff and dedicated programs can help you directly address your needs and goals while navigating your mental health needs and the use of addictive substances. For more information on how we can create a personalized recovery plan for you, or to speak to our caring staff, call (866) 390-5070.