I have real hermit tendencies. If it were not for my job and my husband, I would happily spend my days at home curled up, reading a book. This time of year can be both joyful and very isolating simultaneously. For those who are homebodies like me, or who are isolated, for whatever reason, this time of year can be downright deadly. It’s not a very far step from reading a book at home to feeling left out by the world.
The feelings of isolation can happen anywhere, even in crowds. I have a thing about crowds. I don’t like them. When I was a kid, I loved big holiday crowds, stores full of smiling people, lines to go see Santa. Nowadays, crowded malls and stores give me a headache and, at best, make me irritable and feeling trapped from potential exit points. Sometimes it can feel like one is literally an island amid the sea of people surging by in their holiday rush. These feelings are often intensified for those who have served in combat or who are on deployment.
We all know the holidays can be a stressful time. We also know there are lots of folks out there who can feel alone even among a crowd of people. This season, if you’re a Veteran, a service member or a family member, you can talk to a VA counselor. Please call 1-800-273-talk (8255) or go to the chat room–both available 24/7. If you’re in danger of becoming homeless or are already homeless, call us at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) or, again, try our chat room.
It takes strength to ask for help. I know all of our warriors have that strength–sometimes you just have to dig deep for it. Please reach out to us. Your VA is ready to listen.
L. Tammy Duckworth is VA’s Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. She served in Iraq as a Blackhawk pilot and is currently a member of the Illinois Army National Guard.