Since 2011, Soldier’s Heart has been offering programs for military and veteran families/loved ones. Soldier’s Heart co-founder Kate Dahlstedt began with a weekly teleconference support group for female family members and other loved ones after receiving a small grant. This group continues bi-weekly to this day, and has included mothers, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, wives, former wives, girlfriends and fiancées. The conversations that take place are rich in wisdom, honest in sharing and generous in compassion and understanding.
Since 2012, Soldier’s Heart has offered retreats for family members and loved ones. Retreat participants have shared deep revelations of the everyday lives and struggles of people who love an active duty service member and/or a veteran who suffers from visible and invisible wounds. They have graciously shared their experiences and feelings as well as the many ways their lives are different from others in the general public.
Their stories are inspiring and moving yet troubling models of how much sacrifice our service members’ loved ones endure, usually silently and unseen. Like our veterans, they often feel isolated, ignored and marginalized by their communities. They sense that others don’t understand or don’t care about what their lives are like.
In 2015, we launched a project to explore childhood issues with adult children of veterans. By discussing and reflecting on the childhood experiences and needs with those who were raised in families with active duty service members or veterans, it is our goal not only to provide them with insights and support, but to also develop a Soldier’s Heart Model that will be helpful to children in today’s military families.
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