Letter to Children of Veterans

Dear Sons and Daughters of Veterans:

I’m honored that Christal invited me to write a brief letter to you–whether you are young or old, content or concerned, well-loved or isolated.  War–particularly harsh, sustained conditions of war–can leave a troubling legacy.  Combatants, and even those who were assigned far from the fighting, often are transformed from the man or woman they were to a different person.  They come home without the full range of feelings that they once had:  less serenity;  less joyfulness;  less ability to feel the love they know they have inside.  On the other hand, they may be very, very aware. They are easily angered and alarmed. Their ability to sense danger is turned up.  Sometimes they sense danger when danger really isn’t there.  So children of veterans, especially young children, may wonder what happened to Mom or Dad — and what did I do to push my parent away?  You did not push them away. Christal knows this well and she wrote about it beautifully in her book, Thirty Days With My Father:  Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD.  Her story is one of years spent separated in spirit from a Dad she admired, until she forced the issue and made sure they re-connected.  Now she wants to do what she can to introduce children of veterans, like herself, to one another.  I’m sure that many of you feel attached to friends and family.  But bonds can be extended to include others who share values and experiences.  That is the idea that unites us–we are connected through kinship with those who served our country.  My daughter served.  Your dad or mom served. That makes us family.

With respect,

Frank M. Ochberg, MD

Frank Ochberg, MD, is an acclaimed psychiatrist, a pioneer in trauma science, an educator, and the editor of the first text on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder
Frank Ochberg, MD, is an acclaimed psychiatrist, a pioneer in trauma science, an educator, and the editor of the first text on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.


3 Responses to Letter to Children of Veterans

  1. Elizabeth Lopez says:

    I am a 46 year old woman, married with a beautiful family. However, I’m still dealing with the
    Vietnam War. I suffer from PTSD, diagnosed by a Psychiatrist and Clinical Therapist. I was born in 1968 when my father was in Vietnam. Since a young child the effects of the war on my father affected all of my life until the present. How do I start telling my story? I feel I have so much to share that may help these young children dealing with their fathers or mothers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I do wish to share my story of how my childhood, my marriage and raising of our sons was all affected by what I grew up with as a father.

  2. Jerry says:

    My Dad is a Vietnam Vet. I’m 37 now. But when I was a kid I developed a complex because a small obnoxious minority of people my father age. Made derogatory comments about my father and atrocities committed by American soldiers in Vietnam.This stereo type was also reinforced among some of the American public with movies like platoon, etc. I always thought I was alone in having a complex over this. It was not until I was 24 and in college that I was introduced to a kid who was Cuban American who father had worked for the CIA as an anti Castro Cuban that I realized I wasn’t alone. He as a child growing up was made fun of too and he and his father were made to feel responsible for the downing of a Cuban airliner that had children on board. There was great relief in meeting each other he told me that he never knew what he was til he met me. We called ourselves ‘war baby’s.’

  3. Inge Carle says:

    Looking up information for my sons, their Dad and Stepdad were Vietnam Vets.

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