'It's so hard': Memorial Day triggers 'heavy' emotions for military families and veterans

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Friday, May 27, 2022
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month mental health awareness month" and this time of year certainly can be heavy for a community committed to serving our country.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Alecia Blair's husband has been on active duty for the entire length of their marriage, nearly 18 years.

She knows other families haven't been able to experience their spouse's safe return and it's on the forefront of her mind as we head into Memorial Day weekend.

"I'm fortunate that I'm not a Gold Star spouse and not a Gold Star family," said Blair. "We're very grateful for that, but we do know there have been other deployments where we have lost service members."

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this time of year certainly can be heavy for a community committed to serving our country. Mental health professionals say the holiday can trigger a host of emotions.

The Stephen A Cohen Military Family Clinic says there's opportunity to reach out and let someone know they're not alone.

"Just being able to talk about the grief they could be going through. For many it's so uncomfortable, it's so hard," said Lead Clinician Tiffany Douglas. "Grief is not a linear process. It's really complex and it can look so different day-to-day, month to month, year to year."

Blair not only talks with others, but also is keeping a tradition alive every year.

She brings the entire family to a memorial or a veteran's cemetery. She's hoping to teach her kids this weekend is not about barbeques and parties, but respect and appreciation.

"We salute and we read the names aloud of the service members who have died in service, and that's a really great way to honor their memory and that they live on," said Blair.

The Cohen Center is a resource for military families seeking professional help. A clinic is located in Fayetteville.