CHICAGO, Nov. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- "They were killing my friends."
That was how Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy justified his heroic actions in World War II. As long as there have been wars, men and women in the military have watched their friends die. Experts warn that delaying our grief will complicate our lives. But what about those who have no choice but to delay it until the battle is over?
An award-winning author of four books on grieving the death of a friend has practical suggestions for supporting veterans who have lost a friend in battle.
"Over 5,700 American military men and women have died as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Over 5,700 families mourn that loss," says Victoria Noe, author of Friend Grief and the Military: Band of Friends. "But tens of thousands of friends – including battle buddies – also grieve. While they're on the front lines, they have to push down their grief, so those battle scars come home with them."
The best thing civilians can do to support returning veterans is listen to them talk about their friends. Veterans Day is a good time to remember that there are some specific things to avoid saying:
- "That happened in Band of Brothers, didn't it?"
Any veteran will tell you that real war is not like a TV show or a video game. It's difficult to describe, in words or pictures, though some have come close. Watching a movie is not the same as trudging through 120 degree heat carrying a 90 pound pack while under enemy fire, watching those around you die.
- "Did you see them get killed?"
Every man or woman coming back from war has seen things they wish they could forget. Sometimes that includes seeing their friends die. Very few want to discuss it. Unless they offer to tell the story, don't give in to the temptation to dig for traumatic stories.
- "They died for a great cause" or "Their death was a waste."
The veteran's loss is deeply personal. There's no room for politics when talking to someone who is grieving. Keep your opinions to yourself unless you're 100% sure it will comfort them.
- "They died a hero."
Although their friend may have done heroic things, even those who have been awarded the Medal of Honor do not consider themselves heroes. No matter how many others they saved, they cannot forget the ones who died. They see themselves as men and women doing a job, under horrific conditions, with sometimes tragic results.
- "At least you're okay. That's all that matters."
This may be the worst thing of all to say. Everyone copes with the aftermath of war in different ways; not all of those ways are visible. Survivor guilt is a serious emotional issue for anyone who survives a trauma. Their friend may have died protecting them, or they may have been unable to save their friend. Their guilt may seem irrational to civilians, but it can haunt veterans for the rest of their lives, part of a condition known as "moral injury."
Friend Grief and the Military: Band of Friends gives military and civilians alike a glimpse into the unique challenges of grieving a battle buddy. The fourth title in Victoria Noe's award-winning Friend Grief series looks at how men and women have grieved and honored those with whom they served. Stories from current and past conflicts prove that the bonds of friendship forged in battle have always endured.
In October, the Chicago Writers Association awarded Noe's book honorable mention in the 2014 Chicago Book of the Year competition. Friend Grief and the Military: Band of Friends is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and Kobo.
For more information, go to http://www.friendgrief.com.
CONTACT: Victoria Noe, 773-450-0391, Email
SOURCE Victoria Noe