Returning home can have a vast range of challenges for both veterans and their loved ones. From the common struggle associated with resuming life as a civilian to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, those who’ve served have a lot to overcome. Understanding the issues that veterans face can be key to helping them live happy and high-quality lives.
Here are five things a military veteran can expect after leaving the military.
- Finding New Purpose and a New Career
Outside of the military, the world looks and operates far differently from what veterans have come to expect. Even relearning to meet civilian standards can leave veterans feeling out of place for quite some time.
Many men and women who serve in the military typically find out that much of their self-worth and many of their goals are primarily structured around the unit that they lived in, trained in, and fought with for months or even years.
The prospect of finding work in new areas and needing to discover new, productive ways to fill their time can be daunting pr even downright overwhelming.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Challenges
Adapting to civilian life is frustrating for many veterans. It often requires people to totally rethink how they view themselves, the world, and their roles in the world. This can lead to frustration, stress, and anxiety.
It’s also important to note that many veterans return home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may have to deal with insomnia, mood swings, nightmares, flashbacks, and other challenging symptoms. PTSD can be detrimental to marital and family relationships, as it makes it hard for veterans to function normally in nearly every aspect of life.
What is more, a mental health issue like PTSD can prevent the veteran from finding and keeping a job in civilian life. But failing to put food on the table can be taxing if the vet used to be the family’s breadwinner.
That is why their family needs to understand mental disorders and veterans disability benefits to help the vet secure a steady stream of income for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle as he transitions to civilian life. Therapy can also be an option.
- Housing Issues
According to statistics, one out of five veterans lives on their own. Rejoining society after service is difficult. Mental and physical disabilities make it hard for many veterans to find appropriate careers, especially when facing challenges in applying for and receiving benefits.
Whether due to health issues, personality changes, behavioral changes, or other struggles, veterans also have a higher-than-average divorce rate. Moreover, veterans who have PTSD tend to self-isolate, as do many others.
Self-isolation, when paired with a poor community or societal support, leaves many veterans facing homelessness. In 2019, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that there were more than 37,000 homeless veterans on the nation’s streets, which accounted for eight percent of all homeless adults.
- Physical Disabilities
Around 30 percent of all veterans have at least one form of a service-related disability. Military service can leave veterans with lifelong injuries. These injuries can range from full or partial hearing or vision loss to loss of fingers, hands, feet, or entire limbs.
Some veterans have to deal with full or partial paralysis, and others have to live with chronic and debilitating back, neck, or shoulder pain. Not only do these changes affect a person’s ability to lead a satisfying and self-sufficient life, but they can also result in decreased confidence, depression, mood swings, and other emotional challenges.
- Reestablishing Old Relationships
Even when surrounded by others, depressed veterans might have to also deal with an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Their past experiences are often unique to people who’ve served, and they suddenly find themselves surrounded by people with no military experience at all.
Nearly every aspect of their civilian lives is far different from the highly regimented and survival-oriented routines that they’ve become used to. Some veterans may have been away from their young children for several years, and some may be meeting their newborn children for the very first time.
Among the most troubling family and household developments that veterans might face are:
- Significant growth spurts in minor children
- The untimely death of a close family member or friend
- Dramatic changes in household routines
- New family dynamics such as having a child leave for college or having an aging parent move in
- Spouses assuming the role as a primary authority figure or head of household.
Marriage counseling, parenting classes, and private talk therapy sessions can be beneficial to this end. Spouses can rediscover one another in safe and non-judgmental settings, and they can also openly discuss their concerns and fears.
Veterans can also gain a much-needed sense of camaraderie by joining veterans’ support groups and devoting their time to working with and counseling other veterans.
People serving in the military are often eager to go home. Sadly, when they return, they may discover that their experiences have changed them in ways that make the home seem far less familiar and far less comforting than they remember.
By seeking out the right support, getting help in reevaluating and re-planning their lives, and devoting some of their energy towards helping others in their situation, veterans can successfully rejoin civilian life and feel like they belong again.
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