Advocating for veteran support has long been a passion of mine. I grew up learning of the struggles veterans face when returning to civilian life from my grandfather, a veteran Marine. Now, a veteran myself, I know all to well the difficulties our service members deal with, in their attempts to find a new reality once they return from combat.
I wanted to write this blog today because I think it’s hard for civilians to understand the position veterans are in, and why they face some of the issues that plague them after their military service is over. I’m sure you’ve all read news articles highlighting the most common issues; homelessness, unemployment, the mental and physical conditions effecting many of our veterans. But before you can begin trying to understand the cause of these issues, I think it’s important to consider the biggest struggle our veterans face and that’s the mental transition from active duty to civilian life.
The strength of our nation’s military is based on a team mentality; everyone does everything the same way at the same time. While serving, there are very few opportunities to make a decision on your own; most decisions are made for you by your leaders. Regardless of what branch you serve, all members dress the same, walk the same, eat the same, operate on the same rigid schedule. Now imagine the challenges one might face when trying to transition from that type of existence, back to a normal civilian existence. No one is there to tell you what to do and how to do it, anymore.
Many of our service members, and especially those returning from combat, have been living their life in situations where every decision could mean life or death. Upon returning home from war, it’s difficult to find meaning in what most Americans know as everyday living. There’s a scene in the movie The Hurt Locker, that I think really sums up the point I’m making.
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