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American veterans often experience a number of challenges when returning from the military to civilian life. Changing the pace of life entirely can be difficult, and especially so with the impact of injury; indeed, the ADA recently found that 29.6% of veterans aged 21-64 are discharged with some form of disability. Many more remain undiagnosed.
From military to civilian life transition challenges
It’s easy to see why the jump to civilian life can be so difficult, and so veterans need to follow a process to provide themselves with the best possible foundation for civilian life.
The most important step, arguably, is to establish a level of finances. While veterans are entitled to a broad range of benefits, the nature of the current employment market and the impact of disability can make it hard to earn. Military.com has warned of a huge surge in homeless veterans owing to the current financial climate. Veterans need to take two steps; firstly, they need to obtain the right health care and documentation to help support them in the workplace. This can mean using an attorney, both to help get an idea of their rights and to assess potential military medical malpractice. Secondly, veterans need to think about where their career might take them, and look at how the community can help support them.
Jobs for veterans
Just as there are broad support networks for veterans, many communities across the USA actively promote job listings aimed at veterans. The business rationale for this is clear, as the Department of Labor notes; veterans are some of the best employees around. Seeking out these jobs can bring about better rates of pay, and employment benefits linked to service, easing the transition further.
Joining the community
Perhaps more important than any other single factor is the need to get involved with the local community. A study published by the Journal of Veterans Studies highlighted the level of exclusion that veterans experience that stems from a lack of confidence and knowledge in accessing community support. Building important ties from day one, whether through regular community ties or local veterans groups, is essential.
The reason that community ties are so important is because of their impact on mental health. Having friends and family within the local area that can be called upon in times of trouble, or a crisis, is invaluable, and especially for veterans. While veterans do not report a higher overall rate of mental health illness when compared to the general population, they do experience higher rates of conditions such as PTSD, according to studies. Furthermore, veterans are generally more reluctant to access mental health care services, whether that’s due to a lack of knowledge or due to social pressure to conceal symptoms of adverse mental health.
As such, it’s crucial that veterans obtain the long-term healthcare they need to support their mental health. Even if they don’t have a diagnosed condition, it can be beneficial to start talking to a therapist or counsellor to start working through and untangling, complex emotions arising from a tour of duty. Taking early steps to find peace, and perhaps harmony, are powerful in the overall quest for good mental health. Mental health is about control; taking charge of the issue, and controlling the internal narrative, is important.
Bringing these factors together will create a strong foundation to a prosperous post-service life. Veterans deserve peace and happiness after giving what they do for their country. It takes a little effort to ensure that’s the reality, rather than a pipe dream.