Healthy Communication with Veterans or Veteran Family Members

The DeMarco Project Speaks
Healthy Communication with Veterans or Veteran Family Members
Part I
By Kim J. Clark
Aka Expanding Love
As civilians we can never truly understand the post service health issues a veteran may have. We
can empathize, have compassion and an overwhelming desire to help. However, at the end of the
day, we can only imagine what the person experienced while in active duty, and the emotional
scars that may continue to be with them.
As people who benefit from sacrifices made by the men and women who serve, it is a privilege
to honor veterans in any healthy way we can. One way is to pay attention to the words used and
questions asked when conversing with a traumatized veteran. In many cases, you can’t look at a
veteran and know if they experienced some type of military related trauma. So, it is prudent, for
the sake of building healthy relationships with veterans and family members of traumatized
veterans, to pay attention to the words you speak.
For example, on more than one occasion, when speaking about my mission, the individual I was
speaking to responded, “All they have to do is go to the VA.” Initially, I became “agitated” to
say the least. My son was not able to make it, without much needed medication, to the day he
was scheduled for intake at the VA. Out of these experiences, I learned that most people may
not realize their questions or comments may trigger a negative response in the person they are
speaking to.
While preparing to write this article, it occurred to me a way to help veterans and civilians who
interact with veterans, would be to ask veterans, what they wanted civilians to know. When the
question was posed, the unanimous response from the group of veterans I was speaking with
was, “Tell people to stop asking dumb questions.” When asked for an example, the most
disturbing question veterans are asked is, “Have you killed anyone?” to which, the veteran, is
forced the relive events they are trying to close the door on.
If you must ask questions, be considerate of the veteran. Examples of better questions to ask
includes, “What did you like most about your military experience?” and “Is basic training as hard
as they make it look in the movies? This writer invites the reader to be mindful of questions and
“off the cuff “ statements made when trying to connect with veterans and their immediate family
members. And, of course, always express gratitude for the great sacrifice made.
Remember our heroes on Veterans Day, November 11, 2017
Kim is the mother of a veteran who loved his country and was willing to lay his life down for the
freedoms he believed in. She is the President and Founder of The DeMarco Project, a Non-profit
organization. Her life’s mission it to save veteran lives and improve the quality of life for
  • traumatized military service persons. If you would like to support her in the work, donations are
    welcome. Visit the website;

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