Both veterans and active service members make up the backbone of their communities and continue to impact the country they serve in many ways. Many people look to veterans with reverence as symbols of strength across the country. However, as July 4th approaches, many of these patriotic notions can become muddled, leading to expressions of “performative patriotism.” Undoubtedly so, actions of performative patriotism can have adverse effects on veterans and their mental health. Understanding performative patriotism and its potentially destructive impact on veterans is crucial for embracing a new approach to supporting veterans both during this summer and throughout the year. 

What Is Performative Patriotism?

Performative patriotism is a relatively new term but is being used to describe long-standing issues. The term “performative patriotism” describes any outward expression of patriotic intent without sincerity or other actions to support veterans or a love of their country. In other words, such patriotic performances are often done for self-gain rather than to garner true support. For some, it is to garner personal attention or social status within a community, while others may speak about patriotic support but do little to act on these preachings. Among veterans of the armed forces, this kind of performative patriotism can undermine the genuine love and work that many military personnel have put into their country. 

What is performative patriotism

These expressions can also be more common around the 4th of July, with patriotism reaching a new fervor. However, it is always important to take a step back and actually recognize how expressions of performative patriotism can carry profound effects on veterans to better embrace a new way of supporting those who have given and sacrificed in the line of duty for their country. 

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How Performative Patriotism Impacts Veterans

Performative patriotism can bring a great deal of unnecessary stress for veterans, and often veterans who embody true patriotism can be at odds with those who engage in performative behaviors. Furthermore, some veterans may feel ostracized by communities engaging in these performative behaviors. This lack of genuine communication or support can also leave veterans disconnected from communities that otherwise claim to support and care for veterans who have sacrificed for them, birthing feelings of resentment, depression, and self-doubt in daily life. 

Performative patriotism can also lead to either superficial appreciation, or even political exploitation depending on the situation. Other veterans may experience an unrealistic expectation of themselves as performative patriotism may expect veterans to continuously embody certain characteristics of strength and protection while simultaneously ignoring their own needs. 

Veterans often recognize these performative behaviors and experience an increase in anxiety or stress. These same veterans have experienced first-hand the sacrifice needed when taking up the call of duty, with survivor’s guilt, personal injury, chronic pains, trauma, PTSD, and more all being daily reminders of the cost and values of their country. Together, the challenges still prevalent from veterans’ time in service and the lack of genuine, understanding support at home can lead to various mental health disorders. Moreover, it can also inform the use of drugs or alcohol if performative patriotism outweighs efforts to understand, sympathize, or otherwise tend to veterans’ needs. 

Embracing Effective Ways to Support Veterans

Veterans are valued members of any community they occupy. Distancing oneself from performative patriotism to embrace genuine support and change this July 4th is paramount to helping veterans transition to a healthy and fulfilling civilian life, and Hawaii Island Recovery can help take these important steps through our unique Hawaii rehabilitation.

Build Communication

Many expressions of performative patriotism occur without actual veterans involved and thus lack the perspective to effectively communicate what it means to love one’s country, especially as many of those engaged in performative patriotism may not have made such sacrifices themselves. Patriotism and a sense of pride in one’s country don’t come without also acknowledging the challenges still to overcome. 

Acknowledging survivors’ guilt, PTSD, addiction, and other challenges that veterans face at home to genuinely support veterans is crucial, and reaching this support can be impossible without first communicating with the veterans who embody the spirit of freedom championed across the country. Talking to veterans about their needs and experiences, allowing veterans to express vulnerability, and otherwise de-stigmatizing veteran needs and challenges are all crucial parts of necessary change. 

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Take Action

Many efforts of performative patriotism are marked by their lack of actual action in the face of the needs of veterans. However, taking action does not have to be anything grand on its own. Visiting a veteran community to learn about the needs and challenges of veterans, volunteering at a local VA facility, providing transportation or resources to help challenge homelessness, financial stresses, employment, or addiction, supporting or shopping at veteran-owned companies, or providing a platform for veterans to speak themselves about what embodies patriotism are all powerful ways to take actual action to support veterans at home.  

July 4th marks a time for many across the country to embrace a love for their country. However, the love and accomplishments of the country did not come without loss. Working with Hawaii Island Recovery to support veterans across the country and embracing their needs and challenges is the first step toward genuine change and can further the true spirit of patriotism that veterans themselves champion each day.  

Performative patriotism can be incredibly destructive to veterans across the country, and Hawaii Island Recovery can help you challenge the emotional effects of performative patriotism. Our unique Hawaii rehabilitation is catered to the personal needs of veterans overcoming an array of various challenges, from substance use to trauma, PTSD, survivor’s guilt, anxiety, and much more. We champion the opportunity to help you take your first step toward overcoming the stresses prevalent across daily civilian life through our personalized programs and dedicated veteran community of healing. For more information on how we can help create a recovery program that tends to your needs and goals, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.