(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Holidays spent away from loved ones can be a difficult time for many people — especially our troops in our backyard, and overseas.
Even though there is a whole new generation of US troops who don’t deploy as often as they did years ago, Dr. Christopher McNulty, a veteran himself and an associate medical director for Urgent Care medicine for Optum in Colorado Springs, said PTSD is still a looming concern.
“It’s dealing with the problems that come up from just being in the military, being away from your spouse, being away from your family,” he said. “And it’s hard to treat and it takes a long time to treat.”
He said these symptoms are made even worse during the holidays.
“It’s so easy when you’re deployed to an austere environment to feel forgotten.”
Travis Baker, an Afghanistan veteran and VFW Post 6461 commander, said when he was deployed, it was hard to feel connected with his family.
“You’re over there in the land of the lost. You’re constantly on patrols, you’re constantly working,” Baker said.
Within the branches, veterans said they try and keep it festive, but there’s nothing like a little something from home.
“To a deployed person, that care package represents much more than what’s just in it,” McNuty said. “It represents love from the person who sent it caring and that they’re being thought of, that they’re not forgotten.”
Veterans said care packages are especially good for those who don’t have close family.
“It means the world. It’s simply the most important thing that can happen when you’re deployed,” McNuty said.
But, veterans said not to forget those stationed in our own backyard and recommended the “Adopt a Soldier” program for the holidays.
“They usually just sleep on the couch and empty my refrigerator,” McNuty said with a laugh. “But it’s a blast to have them. And they love it.”
He added little things like this over the holidays are just a reminder that people from home and in their community are thinking about them.
“It has everything to do with the consideration of thank you for your service.”