Q&A: More effects of this !@#$%^ war

Michelle writes:

"I'm freaking out a bit and I'm hoping you and the Internets might be able to help calm me down.  In the way of background, our 10 month old son is at an in-home daycare 4 days a week, and has been there since he was 3 months old.  The daycare was recommended to us by some friends who have a 5 year old and a 2 year old.  We have been thrilled with our provider, "Jenny," and she absolutely adores our son.

Jenny's husband returned from a year-long overseas deployment 2 months ago and Jenny has mentioned to me that they've been having trouble adjusting to having him home again.  Then, a couple of days ago, he just left, and Jenny hasn't heard from him since, short of a text message saying he was meeting with a counselor.  I found this out yesterday when I went to pick up my son.  He was in a swing-set baby swing, by himself, and Jenny was on the complete other side of the yard.  He was just hanging out, staring down at the ground.  He wasn't upset, but he was definitely all alone. When I saw him, I was really surprised and upset…  Jenny is usually right there with him.  I ran and grabbed him, and when I turned around to see why Jenny wasn't there, she was sitting in a chair staring off into space.  I asked her if she was okay and that's when she told me what happened with her husband.

I understand why she's distracted, but I worry that with her mind elsewhere she'll be unable to properly care for the kids.  I spoke with the friend of mine I mentioned above, and neither of her kids have said anything about things being "weird" at Jenny's, which makes me feel a bit better.  I also worry, though this is probably my new-mom paranoia coming out, that her husband is going to become violent and come to the house while the kids are there.  It sounds like the person who held his post prior to him arriving committed suicide, and that many of his superiors needed to be replaced because of the stress.

So, what I need, I guess, is some reassurance….  How have other people dealt with it when their daycare provider is having bad personal problems?  And I suspect I'm overreacting when I worry about her husband hurting the kids or hurting her in front of the kids, but I would love for someone to tell me to chill out about it…"

I am so, so, so sorry for Jenny and her husband that this is happening. They are not alone. I've been reading all kinds of articles about how returning military people are having major problems reintegrating into their families and lives when they come back from being deployed. The system is starting to get overwhelmed, and returning military people are slipping through the cracks and families are being destabilized.

It sounds like Jenny has no idea what to do about this. We have no idea if the husband is going to become violent. I wouldn't rule it out, but I also wouldn't say it'll definitely happen. The sooner they can get help, the better off everyone will be, and the more stable the situation will become.

I think the best resolution to the problem would be for you and the other parents to start poking at the system in your area to see what support services there are for returning soldiers and their families. I'd start looking around for EMDR therapists.(EMDR is the process that's showing the best results in treating PTSD effectively and rapidly.) And I'd call the VA and see if there are support groups for families. It's good that he's seeing a counselor. Very good, and seriously lessens the likelihood that he'll be violent. But we have to hope that the counselor knows what to do with PTSD cases.

Does anyone out there have experience with getting help from the system for a returning soldier and family? Jenny and her husband aren't the only ones that are dealing with this. And not everyone has a Michelle who's worried about it.

Bring our troops home NOW.