Why Veterans Shouldn’t Compare Their Trauma to Others and How to Cope in Healthy Ways
As a veteran, I’ve seen and experienced things that most people can only imagine. Trauma
is a common experience among veterans, but the severity and symptoms can vary greatly
from person to person. It’s essential to understand that trauma is not a competition and
comparing your trauma to someone else’s can be harmful.
For years, I struggled with the idea that my trauma wasn’t as “bad” as the trauma that my
best friends experienced. Comparing my trauma to theirs only led to years of depression,
suicidal thoughts, and tendencies. I felt guilty for feeling the way I did because I believed
that I didn’t have a “right” to feel that way since I didn’t have visible injuries.
It wasn’t until one of my injured friends told me that it was okay to “not be okay” that I
realized how harmful my thinking was. He reminded me that everyone handles trauma
differently and that just because my injuries weren’t visible, it didn’t make them any less
valid. That conversation was a turning point for me, and it allowed me to start seeking help
and acknowledging that I needed it.
There are healthy ways to cope with trauma. For me, going to the gym and being outdoors
helped me manage my symptoms. Being in nature helped me to clear my mind and find
peace. I also got a service dog, and that has been life-changing for me. However, what
works for one person may not work for another. Some veterans may find that talking to a
therapist or joining a support group helps them cope, while others may find solace in
hobbies like painting or writing.
It’s crucial to find healthy ways to cope with trauma instead of turning to unhealthy habits
like substance abuse or isolation. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of
Sharing your story with others can also be helpful. As veterans, we have a unique
perspective on trauma and can relate to each other in ways that civilians may not
understand. By sharing our stories, we can help others who may be struggling with similar
issues. We can also reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage others to
seek help when they need it.
Read more about John’s story, and 8 other first responders in the book “Lessons in Cadence” by visiting: https://www.lessonsincadence.com