05 May Life After the Military
A TO Z: 26 ISSUES TRANSITIONING VETERANS FACE #12
What does it mean to transition from the Armed Forces? Is it a state of mind or a series of steps to become physically and psychologically sound again? When you serve your country, you have a family you call your own. There are good and bad days. There are days you actually hate your squad leader, company commander and the crap you have to do. The grind of the military is not easy and it’s not for everyone.
It is okay to have a love/hate relationship with the military, because there’s the brutal truth you may have to kill or be killed. Nobody wants to talk about those elements. We all want to sweep it under the rug and pretend they are out of sight and mind.
News flash: it never goes out of sight or mind. You have to learn to adapt and move forward in a new environment that will never look the same after a deployment.
Most soldiers must adjust back to civilian life and that should be acceptable. What do people expect? A man or woman who has seen life from a different perspective is just going to come back high-fiving everyone? If you think that, we are in a lot more trouble as a society than originally thought.
Making adjustments and having support are so critical. Fixing a person first, while taking into account their life structure is very important. Here are some thoughts to consider while being sensitive to those in need:
7 Needs of a Veteran Adjusting to Civilian Life
- A professional job in line with their knowledge, skills and abilities.
- A support structure in place that has empathy for what the person is going through.
- A mentor who can help with educational and career advice.
- Professional mental health resources, without restrictions to service.
- Medical health care that is adequate to meet the need.
- Housing and transportation considerations.
- Love, commitment and compassion.
Most people do not want to talk about the real needs of returning soldiers. It’s a lot more than waving a flag or attending an event in support of veterans. We have to take the next step, because it’s easy to say we can solve the problem; however, what are we actually doing about it today?
Raising awareness and actually doing is the way we change lives. It’s not okay to accept the death of someone just because we failed as a society by allowing suicide rates to spike to levels higher than the death rates during the actual war. Yes, a veteran has personal responsibilities, but there are moral guidelines we must follow as well.
It begins and ends with leaders who stand up to bring about real change and it begins with you and me. My father abused and tortured me as a child. He used drugs and alcohol daily. He served for almost 10 years in the military. Was he coping in pain or was he just surviving before he passed away in 2010, the day after my birthday? Could we have done more for him and for other veterans or is it someone else’s problem?