Working with Veterans Managing Grief and Loss This Veterans Day

Thursday, November 10, 2022

This month, we will celebrate Veterans Day for all United States Military Veterans who have sacrificed their time and livelihood to protect American citizens. 

We take the time to thank and honor all who have served, including the deceased because they made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  Like many of us, Veterans will experience loss even after the battlefield. However, that does not always mean that they will express their grief in similar ways as civilians.

For some Veterans, possible death comes with the decision to serve, but the loss of their military identity, family, and the transition to civilian life can be a struggle.  Dr. Welsh and Bob Kauffman, LCSW of Choosing Therapy, have many years of experience working with veterans.  They have noted that many Veterans have difficulty grieving job loss, loss of purpose, and loss of future expectations of what their life may have been had they not experienced physical and mental hardships. Additionally, the military life transition can bring on mental illness, relationship problems, and unemployment for many Veterans. 

When Veterans are done with war the battle actually begins. Not only does the military suicide rate currently exceed the combat death rate, but the military suicide rate now exceeds the civilian rate. For this reason, it is imperative that we find ways to support our grieving Veterans.

Here are 4 things to look for when supporting Veterans experiencing loss:

1. Addictive Behaviors 

Many Veterans come home exhibiting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and use substances to help them cope with their symptoms. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning Veterans seen at the VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs. Veterans sometimes find that the use of drugs helps them sleep, relax, or manage situations they would rather avoid. However, using drugs and/or alcohol can make PTSD symptoms worse. 

2. Unhealthy Anger 

Anger helps us cope with life's stressors by giving us the energy to keep going in the face of difficult times or danger. Military training teaches that responding to threats with aggression and is associated with survival in combat experiences. However, unhealthy anger can create problems. PTSD and anger can oftentimes go hand in hand. Additionally, unhealthy anger is associated with suicidality and violence. When anger is intense, its not necessarily a bad thing, It’s how someone reacts to anger that really matters.  Signs to look for are:

  • Making verbal threats
  • Destroying property
  • The ager is affecting work or personal relationships

3. Physical Symptoms of Grief

Many people understand the emotional symptoms of grief. However, Veterans may not show emotional symptoms initially or at all.  For Veterans who are suffering from grief, physical symptoms may be more prominent.  Signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • Heart Racing
  • Poor Focus
  • Nightmares
  • Ulcers
  • Stomach Pain
  • Recurring Headaches

4. Isolation

When Veterans come home they need a community. Isolation allows addictive behaviors, unhealthy anger, and physical symptoms of grief to grow.  If the Veteran doesn’t have work or potential ways to make income and feel purposeful, loved ones to spend time with, or other veterans and friends to connect with this should be a concern and should be addressed as soon as possible. 

If you or someone close to you is a Veteran who is experiencing these symptoms please reach out for help.  The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has many support services. They provide a crisis line and firearm safety support, outreach events, and counseling services. Additionally, there are many Veteran support groups online and in person that provide a safe space for Veterans to identify their symptoms and feel seen.  Lastly, reaching out to a licensed therapist in your community can provide a space for the Veteran to unpack the past, identify trauma, and allow healing. 

The dedicated staff at Vaughn Greene Funeral Services is proud to honor our nation’s veterans. We are here to provide you and your family with professional, compassionate support during your time of need. Please reach out to us anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at



  • Nock MK, Deming CA, Fullerton CS et al. Suicide among soldiers: a review of psychosocial risk and protective factors. Psychiatry. 2013;76(2):97–125


Leave a comment
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.


Please wait

Previous Posts

Military Funeral Traditions: Seven Ways to Remember America's Heroes on Veterans’ Day

Veterans’ Day presents an opportunity to express gratitude for those who have selflessly served in the United States armed forces. To ensure that the memory of these heroes lives on, it's fitting ...

The Best and Worst Sources of Protein, According to Nutritional Experts

From plant-based to animal-derived, sources of protein range from exceptional to the less-than-ideal. In the world of nutrition, protein is an undisputed superhero. It is essential for building mu...

Coping With Grief After Sudden Loss? Here are Seven Important Things to Know

Grief can engulf us when we least expect it, especially after the sudden loss of a loved one. This kind of grief is uniquely intense, plunging us into a confusing world where everything feels unfa...

Plan a Memorable Final Farewell with these Smart Fall Funeral Considerations

Surrounded by autumn's beauty and serenity, fall funeral planning offers special solace to the grieving. With its vibrant leaves and crisp air, autumn brings a sense of comfort, reflection, and no...

Experts Say These Eight Things Can Reduce High Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol is a common health concern, but the good news is that there are ways to tackle it naturally. Heart disease continues to be a leading cause of death worldwide, and maintaining heal...

Returning to Work After a Loved One Passes: Eight Helpful Coping Strategies

When you are returning to work after a loved one passes away, it can be an emotional journey filled with uncertainty. If the prospect of heading back to your workplace after loss feels overwhelmin...

How Should You Choose the Day and Time of the Funeral?

When bidding farewell to a cherished family member or friend, one of the most significant decisions you’ll face is selecting the appropriate day and time of the funeral. Amid the emotional challen...

Celebrating National Alcohol & Drug Recovery Month

This September we celebrate National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Starting in 1989, National Recovery Month was coined to promote and support evidence-based treatment and recovery...

Do You Know the Signs of Dehydration? Seven Sneaky Symptoms That Might Surprise You

We pay close attention to the signs of dehydration we've grown accustomed to, but these less-apparent indictors are just as important. We all know staying hydrated is critical for good health, esp...

Planning Your Own Funeral? Here's Why That's a Smart Way to Go

Planning your funeral is an act of compassion that alleviates the stress on your family, allowing them to focus on healing and cherishing your memory. There are few things in life as poignant as c...