Reasons To Support A Service Member: 4 Life-Changing Benefits Of Coming Home

BRINGING THEM HOME November 2022 Newsletter-9

You may be familiar with many charities supporting wounded veterans and their families, such as Wounded Warriors and Disabled American Veterans. Those organizations are extremely important to provide resources for the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. However, supporting our new military members at the beginning of their service is equally important. Young soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines face unique challenges, both financial and mental. The Ben Jackson Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aids new enlistees with financial help to visit their families. These visits help the service member and their families create precious memories that carry them through the difficult separation.

Here are four reasons why it is so critical to give young troops the opportunity to visit home:

#1: Coping With The Unique Challenges Of Military Life

Joining the military is a major commitment that brings many challenges. For newly enlisted military members, adapting to military life can be difficult. The challenges that come with the transition from civilian to military life can significantly impact the emotional health and overall well-being of young military members.

Culture Shock

One of the biggest challenges facing newly enlisted members is adjusting from civilian life to the unique military culture. This sudden change can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate, leading to feelings of anxiety and stress. Also, new military members may struggle with adjusting to the physical demands of military training, which can be physically and emotionally draining. All of these stresses can contribute to mental health challenges for new military members, making emotional support critical for their overall health. A visit home can be a refreshing taste of normalcy that eases this transition.

Separation from Family and Friends

The military lifestyle can feel isolating, especially when members are away from their families and support systems during deployments or long training periods. These extended periods of separation from loved ones can lead to feelings of homesickness and isolation, which is a contributing factor to our poor military mental health. While letters and care packages certainly make a difference, they are not a replacement for seeing friends and family face-to-face.

Fear of the Unknown

Fear of the unknown is a common stressor for new members of the military. Service members often don’t know where they will be stationed or what their job will actually entail. For some, this could mean moving across the country or even across the world, leaving behind friends and family. The military lifestyle can be unpredictable, and the constant changes in routine and location can add to the stress. Furthermore, many new military members have never been away from home for an extended period of time and may struggle to adjust to the unique demands of military life. This is why it is so important for active duty members to be able to return to their hometown and reconnect with friends and family. Returning to their roots helps them stay grounded in a life that is full of unpredictability.

#2: Overcoming Financial Barriers

Military life offers numerous benefits, such as education, healthcare, and a stable income. However, despite these opportunities for financial assistance, young military members often encounter significant challenges. These financial burdens can impact their well-being, from low starting pay to unexpected expenses. After their basic needs are met, many junior enlisted don’t have enough money left over to visit their family members.

Low Starting Pay and Relocation Expenses

The current starting pay for junior enlisted is $24,206.40 per year, which is significantly lower than many civilian jobs. Additionally, relocating can often lead to additional expenses, such as finding housing and purchasing furniture. Unforeseen costs like car repairs or emergency travel expenses further strain their financial situation.

Alleviating Financial Stress

Addressing these monetary challenges is crucial to the financial security of young military members. Nonprofits like the Ben Jackson Foundation relieve the cost burden of traveling home so our troops can focus on spending quality time with their friends and family members while on leave instead of worrying about the financial stress.

#3: Supporting Mental Health

Joining the military is a life-altering decision, especially for young individuals seeking purpose, adventure, and a chance to serve their country. Studies show that 1 in 4 active duty service members have a mental health condition. Part of addressing this mental health crisis is making sure our troops stay connected with loved ones.

Addressing Psychological Strains

The military environment can subject young individuals to intense physical and emotional demands, including combat exposure, prolonged separation from loved ones, and the pressure to perform under stressful conditions. These experiences can contribute to mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Promoting Resilience and Coping Skills

Young people in the military often encounter situations that test their emotional strength and resilience. Providing mental health support empowers them with coping mechanisms and stress management techniques. Service members need tools to navigate adversity to maximize their performance and mission readiness. The social support provided by a visit home allows military families to build coping skills that can equip them to handle hardships down the road.

Encouraging Help-Seeking Behavior

The military is notorious for a culture that emphasizes toughness and self-reliance. This means many young military personnel hesitate to seek help for depression, anxiety, and other conditions. It is vital to foster an environment that encourages open discussions about mental health and reduces the associated stigma. By normalizing help-seeking behavior, we can ensure that young individuals receive the support they need, ultimately improving overall mental health outcomes.

Early Intervention and Prevention

Early identification and intervention are key to preventing mental health issues from escalating. Military families know their troops better than anyone, which means the military community may not recognize rising mental health issues as well as their family members. This proactive approach promotes prevention, reduces the risk of crisis situations, and fosters a supportive environment that prioritizes the mental wellness of young military personnel.

#4: The Healing Power Of Home

Being away from home for extended periods can take a toll on anyone, but it is especially challenging for young military service members who are navigating the demands of military life while still establishing their identity and independence. A visit home can profoundly impact these young individuals, providing them with much-needed emotional support, a sense of belonging, and an opportunity to recharge.

Reconnecting with Loved Ones

One of the most significant benefits of a visit home is the chance to reconnect with family and friends. This reunion offers young military service members a valuable opportunity to strengthen familial bonds, share experiences, and create lasting memories. Being surrounded by loved ones can provide emotional nourishment, a sense of security, and a reminder of their support system, which can significantly improve their overall well-being.

Renewed Sense of Identity

Serving in the military often entails sacrificing personal needs and individual desires in favor of the collective mission. While this is an essential aspect of military service, it can sometimes lead to a loss of one’s sense of self. Returning home allows young service members to reconnect with their roots, embrace their personal identity, and be reminded of the values and traditions that shape them. This renewed sense of self can enhance their overall satisfaction and purpose within the military.

Mental and Emotional Rejuvenation

Military life can be physically and emotionally demanding, often leaving young service members drained and stressed. A visit home provides a much-needed respite from the rigors of military life, allowing them to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate their mental and emotional well-being. Home visits offer a sanctuary where they can temporarily escape the challenges and responsibilities they face on duty, enabling them to return to their military duties with increased resilience and motivation.

Reflection and Perspective

Stepping away from the military environment allows young service members to gain perspective on their experiences and accomplishments. Home visits offer an opportunity for reflection, allowing them to assess their growth, acknowledge their achievements, and gain clarity on their future aspirations. This introspection can foster personal development, build confidence, and provide a renewed sense of purpose within their military service.

Supportive Network and Community

Home visits reconnect young military service members with their immediate families and community support. Returning to their hometown allows them to engage with old friends, mentors, and fellow service members who have gone through similar experiences. This camaraderie and understanding can provide valuable support, validation, and a sense of belonging, which is essential for maintaining morale and mental stability.

There’s No Better Way To Support Our Troops

A visit home holds an immeasurable positive impact on young military members and their families. By allowing them to reconnect with loved ones, reaffirm their personal identity, rejuvenate their mental and emotional well-being, gain perspective, and tap into a supportive network, home visits contribute to their overall resilience, motivation, and satisfaction within the military. Recognizing the importance of these visits and facilitating opportunities for young service members to return home is a powerful way to ensure their long-term success in military service.

The Ben Jackson Foundation has helped hundreds of service members visit home from their first deployment. Through the support of our donors, we provide checks of $500 toward domestic travel or $1000 for international travel for their first visit home. Donate today and help provide these critical supports for the deserving young men and women serving in our armed forces.

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