Veterans face new challenges and struggles as they return home to adjust to civilian life. These challenges fall under finance, employment, health, education, career, shelter, and even relationships. Although veterans have unique skills learned during their service, using them in the civilian community might not be easy as they think. By the time they leave the military, they seem to be speaking a different language. Some of the challenges veterans can relate to are:
Mental Health Challenges
Veterans lived through extreme conditions that were far from ordinary and may have experienced trauma from their time in combat. When they leave active service, they may start experiencing flashbacks or involuntary memories. The resulting consequence is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Several veterans are suffering from mental health challenges. Dealing with these situations can be difficult.
Soldiers develop safety skills as part of their military training. This skill makes them sensitive to sound and suspicious activities and helps them detect signs of danger. Readjusting this skill to fit into civilian life can be challenging for veterans. They may develop high sensitivity to large crowds, loud noises, and even bright lights. They can also become anxious, regularly changing television channels that air war-related or disturbing news. This attitude can also be irritable to their families.
The US Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans. After leaving active service, some veterans are unable to make enough funds to pay for a home. Others suffering from addiction or mental issues may lose their home. Another cause of veteran homelessness is the lack of a support network from friends and family.
Entering The Workforce
Many veterans find it challenging to translate into the civilian workforce with their military skills. Some have never applied for a civilian job before, and they will need to learn how to create a resume to begin. They also may not know what to expect during job interviews. If they eventually get a job, they may find it difficult to be on a desk after several years in a war zone. Another challenge is understanding the competition in the civilian workplace environment as opposed to the military’s collaborative work style. Many of these work-related challenges have led to a high unemployment rate among veterans.
Providing Necessities and Creating Structure
Necessities like food and shelter are provided to soldiers by the military. Veterans didn’t need to bother with them while in active service. They also didn’t have different choices, as they may have had to eat at certain times and dress in military outfit often. Getting these necessities themselves and adjusting to a civilian way of life may be challenging. They will need to learn how to create a structure for themselves, learn how to get to a doctor, and access other services previously given by the military.
Feelings of Being Unsafe
As a result of safety training also, some veterans may develop paranoia and become suspicious. It may be hard for them to decide “who the enemy is,” leading to confrontations even between their friends. A veteran may start avoiding people and social gatherings. He may be unable to let his guard down and become distrustful, resenting, hostile, and opposing. He’ll need to learn how to trust people and stop being suspicious.
Some veterans facing this challenge become secretive and isolate themselves from online associations out of fear. However, a good investment in online identity protection services might be what he needs.
Challenges with Decision-making
Soldiers are used to taking orders from superiors. Depending on the soldier’s position in the military, he may be unable to make decisions by himself when he leaves. Making simple decisions with his family or deciding between getting a job or going to college can be daunting. He may end up avoiding situations where he’s required to provide solutions. He will need to learn how to take initiatives, be responsible, find solutions to simple problems, and be decisive.
Dealing with Authority
On the other extreme of being unable to make decisions, is an inability to deal with authority figures. Many senior commanding officers who leave the military tend towards ordering people around. They might develop a temper when people don’t respond the way they want. They become unable to deal with authority figures like their boss at their new jobs or even the police. They’ll need to learn that civilian relationships are mutual, and they can’t order people around.
Handicaps and Disability
Some veterans return home with physical handicap situations like amputation, disfigurement, or scarification. Others may be disabled and unable to walk. Depending on the nature of the disability, some may require permanent home care. Challenges with handicap and disability situations can lead to an inability to get a job or even cause self-esteem issues.
Life after military service can be daunting. The transition process into civilian life may be difficult for Veterans. Having a good support network of family and friends, coupled with proper health care, can help ease the transition process.