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Do not ask about the war and do not call them heroes: how to communicate with defenders

A huge number of Ukrainians are now defending the country from the enemy on the front lines. Almost all of them have someone waiting in the rear. Relatives and friends of defenders often make typical mistakes when communicating with the military.

These important tips are published on the "Media Detector" website. Psychologist Olga Kopteva reports on how civilians can talk to military personnel.

Psychologist's advice will help you communicate with native defenders / Photo by Žilvinas Ka on Unsplash

Don't ask about the war

First of all, do not do this for safety reasons. You cannot ask "Where are you now?", "Where are you going?", "What is happening there?". This can harm not only the soldier himself, but also his comrades.

Secondly, often the military cannot tell what is really happening and what they feel. This creates guilt. Therefore, do not talk to the defenders about what you do not understand – about the war. Talk to them about home!

Talk about household chores

Describe everything in detail – how the children are doing at school, what they prepared to eat, how the pets are behaving, etc. Feel free to tell that you got a manicure or did something nice for yourself. Throw photos of everyday life, household chores, etc.

All this helps not to forget about a peaceful life and contributes to the socialization of defenders. With such support, it will be easier for them to return home and to the life they have weaned from.

Don't Ask About War or Call Military Heroes / Sander Sammy on Unsplash

Ask about the feelings of the military

Yes, you cannot ask about what is happening in the war. However, be sure to ask what the person ate, drank, how he feels in the current weather, whether he is hot or cold.

Such questions help to concentrate on bodily sensations and to detach from the war for a moment.

Do not complain

We understand how difficult it is for everyone to go through the war, especially for those whose loved ones are defending independence. However, do not try to transfer your problems and difficult emotions onto the shoulders of defenders.

They themselves are not emotionally sweet, so do not burden them with unnecessary heavy emotions. After such conversations, military personnel feel desolated, restless and guilty of not being able to be around.

If you feel the need for psychological help, apply for free support. This can be found, for example, in Veteran Hub or online.

Don't call defenders "heroes"

Although relatives call defenders "heroes" for the best of reasons, this can be a real trigger for a military person. These people know well what it is worth to be a hero and that heroes often give their lives for their country. Therefore, the word hero often sounds too pathetic and can irritate the military.

It is better to say that you are proud of the defender and thank them for what they do.

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