• Allan Shedlin

Veterans Day Is A Good Time to Armor Down and Ask "What About Day Two?"

By Allan Shedlin

Founder, DADvocacy Consulting Group

PHOTO: AdobeStock

By Veterans Day – as with Memorial Day – we reach a crescendo of heartwarming visions of soldiers returning from deployment, surprising their children in various creative ways, by suddenly appearing in their camouflage. The exuberant heartfelt and heartwarming embraces trigger tears from all involved, including all the in-person and virtual witnesses.

That’s Day #1. But what about Day #2?

Armor Down's Ben King and one of his daughters

For just over two years I have been working to assist veterans and active-duty warriors to reenter their families in the most productive and rewarding ways possible. Working with Ben King, an Iraq War veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and creator of Armor Down and Mindful Memorial Foundation, we have been helping “Warrior Dads” transition from the “call to arms” of battle to their children’s and families “call to arms” upon their return home.

Our Armor Down/Daddy Up!(AD/DU!) program conducted our first sessions for Warrior Dads and their “Warrior Kids” with the Wounded Warrior Project in the greater Richmond, VA, area. After the pandemic required us to conduct our sessions virtually, the six-hour program, offered in three sessions, was opened up nationally and we have now served families in 20 states.

For so many veterans, their physical return home from combat precedes their psychological and emotional return. The traumatic baggage that accompanies them home can weigh heavily on their relationships for years to come.

Embracing the fact that becoming a parent and becoming a soldier are perhaps the two most identity-defining and life-altering moments in the participants’ lives, the Program assists veterans in armoring down from their military experiences and teaches them specific parenting skills to enable them to become the parents they want to be. It builds upon the idea that when parenting is satisfying it can help mitigate the negative consequences often associated with the realities of deployment and its aftermath.

For so many veterans,