My Experience Counseling Soldiers at Fort Eustis

I’ve recently returned to Rock Landing Psychological Group after working on Ft. Eustis counseling and supporting our soldiers.  This has been a great experience for me.  I’ve developed an enhanced appreciation of our military personnel and the unique difficulties they face.  What I’ve learned is that they deal with all the problems that the rest of the population does: stress, anxiety, sadness, relationship issues.  However, there is then an overlay of difficulties due to the military life style.  It is particularly hard on marriages.  The recent multiple deployments exaggerates this even more.  The stress of multiple deployments can be cumulative.

When a soldier is getting ready to deploy, there is a need for increased communication with their partner.  There are the emotional issues that need to be discussed, such as worries and fears.  There are the practical issues, such as paying bills and arranging for the kids.  However,  what I saw was sometimes decreased communication and more emotional distance.  As the soldier gets ready to go off to war, it is normal to move emotional attachment from partner and family to fellow soldiers he will be working intimately with, and upon whom his life may depend.  Sometimes before deployment, without awareness, a couple will have an argument, as it is easier to deal with anger than the sadness, pain and loss the separation involves.

When deployed, the couple  has to deal with loneliness, missing the other, and staying faithful and monogamous.  There is the stress of a war zone. The partner may have to live as a single parent. It may be hard to stay in contact.

Coming home can be joyous, but it can create it’s own set of problems.  The reunion can be wonderful, but sometimes it does not live up to expectations and disappoints.  The soldier or spouse may be preoccupied or tired.  The soldier may still be dealing with things he saw, did or experienced.  After the intensity of life down range, every day life may seem boring or tedious. After dealing with life and death situations, civilian concerns may feel inconsequential.  Children may not remember their returning parent, or may resent it when they come back into the home and try to exercise discipline.  The partner has done without the soldier and developed their own routine. There can be conflict in including the soldier back into the family , and in sharing the responsibilities and chores.

When I think about all these issues, I am thankful that military personnel  are willing to do this demanding job.

About the Author: Randal Colker, Ph.D.


Profession: Clinical Psychologist

Practice Description: Psychology

Practice Specialties or interests: Marital and Divorce Counseling, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Phobias, Depression, Stress Management, Anger, Men’s Issues
Ages treated: Children, Adolescents and AdultsSession Format: Individual, Couples, Family

Treatment Approaches: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Couples Counseling, Gestalt Therapy

Demographic Specialties: All
University of Pittsburgh Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh M.S.
University of Florida BA

License: Licensed Clinical Psychologist
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