Weddings Ceremonies for Combat Veterans
If you or someone you love is a combat veteran, you have probably seen a change in their personality, when they return home. In many cases this change is due to a condition known as PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) which is a Mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
As a veteran owned business, we understand the difficulties many combat veterans face when they try to acclimate back into society. This reintegration can prove to be challenging for an engaged couple that is planning a wedding. Some things to consider:
1. Know your spouse's "triggers".
There are some things that have a tendency to exacerbate a person's PTSD, these are commonly referred to as "triggers". For some, it's loud noises, for others it's fire. Knowing the things that can activate these powerful emotions can prevent any unwanted emotions from creeping up unexpectedly.
2. Be open to the idea of an elopement.
Many of the vets that I talk with, say that large crowds increases their anxiety. This primarily stems from a hyper vigilance that they developed while overseas. Not knowing whether or not the people around you intend on doing you harm, is a real concern for many vets. This doesn't mean that you still can't celebrate with friends and family, just be sensitive to their needs. An elopement is not equal to a Vegas wedding, although the outcomes are the same, the means by which it is carried out can be very intimate and romantic if planned properly.
3. Let them choose their own seat.
If you've ever spent any time with a combat vet, take notice of where they sit. In more cases than not, a veteran will choose to sit in a location that give them direct sight of an exit. This is part of the hyper vigilance discussed above. While making the seating chart for the wedding, make sure that your vet is involved and ask them where would they like to sit in relation to everyone. Chances are they will love you even more, because of the consideration you took to their needs.
4. Allow them to face you the entire wedding.
Couples will often times ask me questions about, "Where do I stand?", "What should I wear?", "What do I do with my hands?". My common reply usually is, "It's your wedding, so do whatever makes you happy!" I normally tell my vets if the source of your strength comes from your bride/groom then focus on them. Don't worry about me or the crowd, or the music. You just focus on the one you're going to spend the rest of your life with and don't get caught up in formality.
5. Be prepared to hear war stories.
Veterans LOVE to reminisce about their days in the military, deployments, or time spent in the barracks. If you are not familiar with this type of banter, be prepared to be entertained and sit back and watch camaraderie at its finest. These conversations are very therapeutic and can help ease the nerves of someone with PTSD before and after the ceremony.
Our active duty military and veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and their wedding day should be honored in a way that is worthy of a war hero. Unfortunately the standard (traditional) wedding ceremony can be very overwhelming to someone with PTSD, but with a little care and thought, our combat vets can enjoy and create the same memories that other wedding couples have enjoyed for centuries.