According to Pew Research Center, a survey found that about a quarter of veterans find it hard to shift back to everyday life after retiring from service. It is because military life is entirely different from civilian life.
It primarily holds for war veterans who had been to danger and war zones and spent considerable time there. It takes a significant toll on their physical and mental well-being. It requires a level of flexibility, open-mindedness, and adaptability.
Some veterans who have had a long-standing career in the military may be experts in dealing with pivotal points in life, while others may find it challenging. Veterans receive support and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other federal government programs.
According to the US Census Bureau, in 2017, about 46.7% of veterans received non-cash and cash benefits. It represented over 19.9 million veterans, representing 6.2% of the US population.
Therefore, a combination of benefits, careful planning with a positive mind, and considering positive lifestyle changes can be beneficial in the long term.
Let us look at some significant lifestyle changes all veterans face post-service.
A health check-up is the first thing every veteran must undergo soon after service. There is a long-standing relationship between veterans and mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure during service. It may not become apparent soon after, but it poses a real threat to war veterans.
Therefore, getting a complete health check-up will help you figure out your health concerns. It includes mental and overall physical well-being.
Many veterans face depression, anxiety, PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries. However, the stigma around mental health may stop them from getting the help they need, further preventing them from landing a job post service. Under some circumstances, it can even lead to a loss of disability benefits.
However, with a civilian job, you can get your off days, especially during the first few weeks, so that you can focus on your health. Nevertheless, a lack of transportation may pose a hurdle in getting around. Since in the military, you do not require a vehicle. It could mean added expense since VA clinics are typically far from residential areas.
It is a significant challenge for almost all veterans to maintain and plan their finances after retiring. Although you may get financial support and benefits from the Veterans Affairs to help you get on track, you must plan for your future savings.
Managing financial stress and dealing with significant transitions is more about lifestyle change than changing your job. It means considering multiple options to finance yourself and your family. You may invest in a profitable venture to get a good return.
However, many veterans find it hard to gather enough for a sound investment. It may seem like your expenses are exceeding your income.
Jobs with a Purpose
After retiring from the military, many veterans find it challenging to find a job that matches their skill set. Many feel that any job besides military service is below them or below their experience level and achievements.
The military provides its soldiers with purpose, goals, discipline, and camaraderie. Any civilian job is not going to match up to that caliber. Due to this, many veterans do not find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning because their work is not the same anymore.
Veterans may work at a job they find mundane until they can find a job requiring their military skills, which may take longer than expected.
In addition, the civilian work dynamic is far different from that of the military. Soldiers usually consider their fellow troops part of their family or second home. They share a special bonding with their platoon. Civilians hardly speak to their coworkers at work and do not interact after working hours.
Veterans are not used to working in such an environment and may even find it unsupportive or dysfunctional.
Getting a New Home
After coming home to their families, many veterans many consider moving to a different home. It is even harder for those without families who have to move out of their base house and find a suitable home for themselves.
On top of that, finding affordable housing is an even bigger issue. Veterans must decide whether to buy or rent, take out a home loan, or get housing vouchers, considering their current financial health.
Due to a delay in finding the proper housing, many find themselves homeless unless they can find some help and a sense of direction.
Respect and Authority
Being in the military comes with status, respect, and authority. Your achievements and rank with a transparent chain of command demand respect from your subordinates and colleagues without asking for it.
Because of this, it can be challenging to begin from scratch and begin anew in a new workplace, being the one with the most to learn. Still, civilians do not give respect just because of job title and authority. It can get very frustrating for veterans, and civilians may find it hard to understand.
It can be challenging for veterans to navigate their new work and social life and build relationships with people who can understand where they come from.
Veterans may find themselves face to face with people holding conflicting values, norms, and behaviors. The rules of social conduct and behavior are different for civilians than for military personnel. It makes it harder for veterans to build healthy relationships with solid foundations outside of the military. Most of them never find it during their civilian life.
It may lead to isolation, loneliness, depression, or social anxiety. Until veterans find people with similar values and norms, they may resort to keeping to themselves, further deteriorating their overall health.
Veterans may find it hard to transition from military to civilian life, and above are just a few examples of the daily challenges they face. Navigating through each of them can lead to added strain and take a toll on their mental health.
Some of these examples are their medical needs and battling with post-military health concerns, financial challenges, finding a job with purpose, finding affordable housing, living with respect and dignity, and navigating changing standards of civilian life to fit into society.
It may take war veterans time to cope with the transition and deal with the challenges, but until then, the problems they face are authentic.
All these factors contribute to the lifestyle changes that every veteran goes through.