It has been twelve years since the US war in Afghanistan began, and for some families the conflict spans two generations.
Army Colonel Tom Stokes, and Air Force Reservist Brenden Stokes, a father and son duo, both served in Afghanistan within months of each other.
Colonel Stokes was deployed to Afghanistan as a behavioral health social worker whose job is to provide behavioral prevention and outreach to soldiers in the most harsh locations.
“A lot of what we do is proactive intervention, reassuring and normalizing. We don’t just wait for behavioral health issues to occur,” says the Colonel.
When Brenden considered deployment, he conferred with his father at the local V.F.W. He wanted to know what he could do to help out his fellow airmen and soldiers, and if it was the right thing to do. HE wound up serving six months at the Kandahar Airfield.
Both Col. Stokes and his son say one of the hardest parts of serving in the military can be coming back. In Colonel Stokes’ opinion, soldiers lose the simplicity of living on a military base and being surrounded by a shared culture and vernacular. For Brenden, the hardest part is being able to relate to your average person again.
“It’s very different. You spend a lot of time living the military life and living the military values. So, coming home is an adjustment and it’s tough to relay to people those experiences since they haven’t experienced it,” he says.
Both agree that if the public can make an effort to become more involved with the nation’s veterans, perhaps it would be easier for soldiers to adjust to civilian life.