5 Challenges Veterans Face When Leaving the Military
Leaving the military and transitioning to civilian life is one of the hardest things to do for a veteran. In many aspects, military and civilian life are the complete opposite of each other. Military life is disciplined, scheduled, and about following orders and commands. In contrast, civilian life is like going with the flow and taking charge, making your own decisions, and finding your way.
Service time completely transforms a person. And it’s difficult to slip right back into the civilian world as war veterans face long-term physical and mental negative effects even long after it’s ended. It takes a huge toll on a person. 27% of veterans state re-entering the civilian world is very challenging.
Both these worlds have different rules, and moving into one after spending so much time in another is quite difficult. Here are five challenges a veteran faces when leaving the military.
- Health-Related Problems
During their service, soldiers are prone to all types of health issues, mental and physical. Most soldiers have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and moral injury. Many fall prey to substance abuse and alcohol addiction.
Similarly, there are chances of developing a disability or getting injured; soldiers exposed to asbestos develop mesothelioma, etc. Thus, having any of these issues, which are very common for veterans, makes it difficult to adjust to civilian life.
It’s necessary to take care of health as a veteran and contact relevant authorities for help. There are funds for veterans’ assistance to help with their health issues. For example, suppose you developed mesothelioma during your service. In that case, you can join a mesothelioma veterans center to get the help you need. You can get help by claiming funds and compensation, medical treatment, surgery, etc.
- Rekindling Lost Bonds
While veterans serve in the military, they have little to no contact with their families and friends. And when they leave the military and move back to the civilian world, it’s completely different from how they left it. And as time passes, others keep moving forward in their lives, and a vast gap exists between a veteran and his family and friends. It becomes very hard to rekindle old bonds.
People cannot understand what a veteran must have gone through in his service. It becomes difficult to relate to each other and establish a role in the family again. During the absence of the veteran, the family changes so much and adopts a new routine. Now the veteran is the one who needs to adjust to their new ways.
- Lack of Qualification
When a veteran is looking for job opportunities in the civilian world, the biggest challenge is that they do not have the required qualifications. 43% of veterans face difficulty in finding a job due to a lack of required education. Most young people join the military after high school but do not continue their education. Thus, it becomes a hurdle when it’s time to get a civilian job.
The competition in the civilian world is skyrocketing. To get a reasonable job, A-levels or GCSE is a minimum requirement. Short-term military service members face two consequences: they lack educational credentials. And they did not fully develop their skill set during that brief service period. Those who serve for a long time become so used to military life that they find it very difficult to translate their skills for civilian use. Not only do veterans lack qualifications for the eligibility criteria, but the businesses also fail to understand and incorporate the military qualifications of the person.
There are educational programs for soldiers when they join the military. Still, they often don’t avail these offers due to the tough routine and life of the army. Don’t let such an opportunity go so that you will have some backup in the future.
- Loss of Purpose
Military life is an embodiment of fulfilling purposes and missions. You wake up at a determined time each day and fulfill tasks and missions. Have meals at a fixed time, know what protocols to follow to land you a promotion, etc. Thus, there is a complete sense of purpose there.
In the military, you move towards a goal and accomplish it and wait for the next command. Compared to this, civilian life is much more loose and abstract. In civilian life, no day is predictable. It’s easy to lose a sense of direction and purpose since every day is a new day with something different to offer. The road to promotion is also not so linear in the civilian world. All this makes things difficult. But you must learn to find a purpose in life’s every aspect and not only in your job. Go beyond your paycheck and your job. Volunteer, serve others, find mentorship and participate in the community to know yourself and your purpose.
- Providing Necessities of Life
One thing you completely forget during your time as a serving member is that you will have to provide all the necessities once you leave. During your serving time, the military takes care of everything from housing to food to healthcare facilities. But you must let go of these benefits when entering the civilian world. You suddenly realize that you must now make a budget, track expenses, and spend consciously.
You must find a new job and provide shelter, healthcare, clothing, education, and all necessities for your family. All these things are not easy to do. For example, if we only look at the housing situation, almost 3.7% of the veterans face homelessness after leaving the military. All these things are taken care of in the military, and there isn’t much choice. Like you live wherever you get posted, you wear the uniform according to your duty station, etc., you don’t have much choice. And when you enter the civilian world, the broad number of choices overwhelms you. The wise thing to do is to start planning before you leave and get information about all the benefit programs you can avail of.
Sooner or later, every serving soldier has to leave the military. Leaving the military is full of challenges. It is difficult to leave your current ways of living, but adapting to completely new ways is also daunting. Every veteran faces these common challenges while leaving the military.
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