5 Challenges Faced by Returning Service Members
Returning to “normal life” can be difficult for veterans and military service members. Formerly deployed veterans experience high rates of physical and mental health problems including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, anxiety and difficulty transitioning from their military responsibilities to civilian roles.
Reintegrating can also be associated with increased tension in personal and familial relationships and the exacerbation of deployment-related stress conditions. These may not be issues civilians ever have to think about, but the harsh reality is that they do exist and they take a heavy toll on veterans.
Some of the areas veterans experience difficulty include:
Reconnecting with Friends and Family
While we all experience stress in our daily lives, veterans and service members experience very specific environments and situations that non-veterans and non-military members don’t and therefore find difficult to relate to civilians.
While friends and family members have gone on with their day-to-day lives it can be difficult for a returning veteran to reintegrate and reestablish their place in a friend group or their family. This can cause intense feelings of isolation which can trigger the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Finding a Job
It could be the first time a veteran has gone through the job searching process, which is already stressful on its own. Creating a resume that properly reflects applicable experience, applying, and interviewing could be new skills a veteran has to learn.
For some service members such as the Reserve or National Guard, it could be returning to an old job. This poses its own challenges such as learning new skills, adjusting to new coworkers, responsibilities or procedures. For this type of service member, it could even mean moving from combat zone to office in as little as three to five days.
Working with Others
The military is service and teamwork-oriented. A group of people are working together to achieve an important goal or complete a mission. Many service members describe the camaraderie the military provides. Many civilian work and social settings are highly competitive and focus more on the individual rather than the whole.
Adjusting to a New Structure and Schedule
In the military, there are strict schedules followed, clear chains of command, uniforms, and specific times to do activities like eat or work out. While many civilians also conduct and follow a schedule for themselves, it’s usually not as strict as that of the military. Going from such structure with very little uncertainty to a more relaxed pace and environment can make it harder for many veterans to thrive. Having so many choices can be stressful. Military members have to work to create a new structure for themselves.
A veteran who may have had a group of friends in the military often returns home to a city without those friends. Establishing a new community after deployment can be daunting.
These are just a few of the areas that veterans can experience difficulties in. Each of these threaten the mental health and wellbeing of veterans due to the isolation of their unique experiences.
While civilians will never be able to walk in a veteran’s shoes or fully understand the effects brought on by the struggles they face, they can still make a positive impact. At Creek and Timber Legacy, we aim to lessen the burden carried by veterans because of these factors. Our goal is to provide community, connection and a sense of belonging, normalcy and stability.