The Link Between Trauma and Military Life: How We Can Work Together to Combat It
One day, I was scrolling my Instagram page and I stumbled upon a video from a licensed therapist. The video was about things that people may not know are types of trauma and immediately, I was interested. It explained that many of these traumas go unnoticed or untreated because many people don't realize that they actually were classified as traumas.
Do you know what was ranked as number one? Moving around a lot at a young age.
My brain kind of exploded at that moment. Something that was so normal to me and many others was classified as a form of trauma. I started to do more research on the idea that moving frequently at a young age causes childhood trauma, and this idea was proven to be true. Even the U.S Army website posted an article on the subject of mental health issues in military kids a couple of years ago. This subject is not new, and yet this concept definitely shocked me. Having to grow up with something for your whole life drastically desensitizes you to it.
After seeing that video, I finally sat down with the idea that moving around constantly since you were very young is not a normal occurrence. It may be a completely normal occurrence for military families and especially military kids but, most of the kids I got the chance to know didn't move from one place to another every couple of years. For most of my life, I've grown up around civilian families who lived in the same place for their whole lives. I didn't really have too many other kids to confide in or relate to when it came to moving around. I didn't have kids to talk to about the military experience outside of "my dad/mom was in the military when I was a kid and then retired here." It wasn't until my move to Carlisle, Pennsylvania and my warm welcome into the Bloom team that I even had actual conversations about my life with others that understood me.
Even being surrounded by those I could relate to, these experiences were isolating. Without those people, they were even more isolating. For example, when I moved from Copperas Cove, TX to Carlisle, PA, I was the most lonely I had ever felt, triggering and amplifying many mental health struggles in my life. Even moving back to Copperas Cove the following year felt unnerving.
Now, I'm not saying moving is a completely awful thing. While it is not the most amazing thing to have to go through, we are able to meet so many different people and see so many incredible places. However, most of those great experiences are paired with grief and pain. From deployments to being forced into a brand new environment, military life can become a burden very quickly. Having this all start from a young age is shown to increase one's risk of depression, severe anger issues, and anxiety.
And yet it is also shown that many military kids can be incredibly strong. While I read up more on this, the article I got the most information from noted that having solid support systems can increase resiliency. Military brats are able to thrive in their complicated lives with the support of friends, family, and even outside sources, like support groups or therapy. It makes me think of how few military support groups there truly are, especially in civilian-dominated areas. There are sometimes military kid groups, but they were never fully committed to helping brats fully process everything going on around them. In fact, I can't even remember what these groups were used for. All I know is that being surrounded by kids like me would have improved my life a lot. I think learning to fully understand what was happening around me would have allowed me to learn resilience by acknowledging what was happening to me, and even being upset about it but staying strong despite all of it.
While military life can cause an immense amount of strife within the lives of kids and adults alike, we can find ways to support the people we care about going through similar things and even ourselves. Moving may be a common type of trauma, but that doesn't mean we as a community can't help each other get through our struggles. We never have to do any of this alone.
While the team at Bloom certainly understands the struggles of being a military teen, we are by no means equipped or qualified to offer assistance or counsel. If you or a loved one is in need of mental help or is suffering from trauma or abuse, we encourage you to talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult. Additionally, you can check out our Resources page for different places you can go to seek mental health help. Remember, you are not alone.