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Your Service Still Matters

Blas VillalobosFor many days now, countless people around the globe have been glued to their television and phone screens as horrific images and reports flow out of Afghanistan following their government’s hostile takeover by members of the Taliban. For twenty years, our nation’s military heroes fought to remove terroristic forces like the Taliban from Afghanistan and equip the people there with the tools they needed to form their own organized society, free from the violence and chaos that had previously been so pervasive. Now with the current situation many people are having an increasingly difficult time. There are people who feel incredibly upset, fearful, and uncertain about what’s to come next. All the while some of our veterans and military families are even questioning the meaning or impact of their involvement there.

For any veteran or military affiliated family member that might be reading this, I am here to tell you that your service still matters, and that you are not alone. Your service and sacrifice matters a great deal to the people of Afghanistan who are simply trying to lead lives free from terror, and it also matters to everyone here in our homeland. I and millions of other Americans will always be grateful for your service.

There is not one way to feel, and many of you may be experiencing a wide range of emotions as you witness the situation in Afghanistan unfold. I encourage you to reach out to fellow veterans, friends or family members to share and discuss your feelings. We, at Centerstone, are also here to help you through this difficult time. Centerstone’s Military Services utilizes a team of professionals who are specifically trained in military culture to deliver mental health services to active duty military personnel, veterans or military family members, regardless of era served or discharge status.

For all others reading, there are a few different ways you can easily support our military heroes and their families during this challenging time:

  • Reach out to friends and the families of those who served. Lend a listening ear and allow them share how they feel.
  • Let them know you care and remind them the sacrifices they made are meaningful.
  • Respect their boundaries, and do not push them to share if they are not comfortable doing so.
  • Avoid asking specific questions about their service, instead, listen to what they have to say and be there for them.
  • Be on the lookout for mental health warning signs from your veteran or military-affiliated friends and family members. These might include social withdrawal, trouble eating or sleeping, excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol, severe mood swings, or intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities.

As with many conflicts in the past, there are still a lot of “what ifs” circulating about, but if we remain focused on what is within our ability to control, our mental health will thank us, and we will be better equipped to lend our knowledge, expertise, and voices to developing long-lasting solutions to this problem and any other we may encounter.

Dr. Blas Villalobos is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Centerstone’s Military Services. 

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