Military families more likely to experience grief, isolation during holidays, nonprofits say

‘They’re not alone. We’re here for them,’ says Fred Alvarado with Broken Warriors Angels

SAN ANTONIO – Nonprofits across San Antonio say military families are more likely to feel grief, isolation or sadness during the holiday season. If you’ve been feeling this way, you’re not alone.

“It is OK not to be OK during the holidays,” said Dr. Maricela Sosa, Life after Loss committee director.

She said, “Grieving is especially difficult during these times of rejoicing.”

Data shows that 64% of people with a mental illness reported their conditions get worse around this time of year. Groups in San Antonio say for veterans, those feelings of grief, depression and even survivors’ guilt can often come from the holidays.

Rhonda Gaston, clinic director of the Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors, said she sees it in the service members and families she works with daily.

“It’s important to normalize these feelings that come up, and these stressors are normal for any humans,” she said.

Deployments, frequent moves and missing those who have died on duty are all common causes for these feelings. That also includes those without family and shelter.

Fred Alvarado, CEO and president of Broken Warriors Angels, said community support is necessary.

“They have no family. The family don’t want them. They miss their families. This is why we do something for them,” he said.

Alvarado said that’s why showing up for those in need can be so important.

“They’re not alone. We’re here for them,” he said.

Gaston said talking about lives lost, listening to people’s feelings, and learning more about mental health can all be places to start.

“There are still ways to seek help without fully seeing an individual therapist,” Gaston said.

It’s not a simple topic, but it is one that Dr. Sosa said needs more attention in San Antonio.

“The fact is we don’t get over our grief. We just continue moving with our grief,” Sosa said.

To find ways to cope with your grief, click here.

About the Author:

Avery Everett is a news reporter and multimedia journalist at KSAT 12 News. Avery is a Philadelphia native. If she’s not at the station, she’s either on a hiking or biking trail. A lover of charcuterie boards and chocolate chip cookies, Avery’s also looking forward to eating her way through San Antonio, one taco shop at a time!