You were in active-duty, valued in the military. You were proud of your service. Very cool. Whatever branch of the military you served, you had a very specific job to do. Maybe you were excellent at it. You had friends and colleagues, healthcare and a place to live. Your existence was orderly and structured.
Now you’re “home”. You might not have family. Maybe you do. Regardless, you’re out of your comfort zone. You’re back in the states but are in a “new” culture. The civilian culture. This is supposed to be home but it doesn’t feel like home. You feel disoriented and oddly disjointed.
Civilian life can be hard to adjust to. Civilians are hard to adjust to. Their minds fire differently. You have different values systems. You feel “off” but can’t really explain why to civilian who wants to know, “what’s it like to be in the military?”.
You need to resettle in with a job, housing, healthcare, readjust to family, friends and have to find new friends. Your buddies from the military are scattered all over the country so support isn’t what it was when you were deployed.
Life has changed big-time. Feeling disoriented is one of the down-sides of being back home. It’s time to reorder all the pieces of your life.
Where do you start? Most organizations, non-profit and government, have services to help you find a job. That’s great. They can help with resume writing, interviewing skills and even help generate connections for possible positions. BUT….who helps with everything else? All these other pieces, plus the job hunt are what keep you up at night. Anxiety and depression can settle in.
Support is essential yet supportive people are in short supply. It’s especially difficult when you have to make new friends and connections. If you don’t have family, post-deployment is more difficult as your support has dissolved. You feel lonely and lost.
If you have family, if you’re married and/or married with kids, you can still feel disconnected. No one in your family knows what it’s like to be in the military. No one understands that you’re a different person post-deployment.
You have to deal with the expectations of roles as a mom/dad, husband/wife and daughter/son. Your friends can’t relate to you as your military friends did. No one understands you. You feel isolated.
In the military you possibly had a highly specialized job and you were excellent at it. Now you come home and the only jobs that are immediately available require half the brains needed for your military job. You can’t find a good fit. You have to market yourself through a resume. Learn interview skills, purchase interviewing clothes for interviews and wade into the job hunt. Not fun.
Psychologically, you need some space to process the transition. You’d like to be able to take time to sort things out. Your identity itself is in transition. Quite possibly, you become more remote, quiet and serious. People ask “what’s wrong?” You don’t share your thoughts because you fear being misunderstood. You pull away further. Post-deployment you can find yourself in a dark place thinking very dark thoughts. You tell yourself you’ll pull out of it. You’re fine, you just need time. You delay seeking professional assistance. You feel stuck.
You wonder, is there anything I can do post-deployment to make my transition easier?
Take a look at three tips that can help orient your mind so you don’t get stuck or if you’re already stuck.
1. Regain your mental discipline. Tap into your mental toughness foundational to the military. You were required to be prompt, thorough, follow-thru and focus on the mission. You were not encouraged to dwell on the past, complain and be emotionally self-indulgent. What you think is who you are. Kick your own butt and get your head in the game.
2. Define your “mission”. Your civilian “mission” is to put in place a plan to accomplish the mission. This plan includes all facets of your new civilian life. It will only work if you have a strategy. After you come up with a strategy, you need to execute. Never give up no matter how many obstacles you face.
3. Network. Network like crazy. You never know which contact can yield a gold mine of connections and opportunity. You also need to network for social reasons. You can Facetime or message your military friends all you want but it doesn’t replace “in-the-flesh” friends. Friends are essential for emotional support and helping you put a few roots down. Friends are important as you need entertainment and enjoyment in your life. You can’t go it alone. As you network, you never know where a contact will lead you. A career? Housing? Significant other? You might be tempted to isolate or already have. Fight this pull.
You have many things of value to share with others. You are amazing. You have advanced training, insight into people and the world that civilians don’t, a rock-solid value system of determination, tenacity, commitment, resolve and focus. Don’t get derailed by discouragement. Keep your sights on a great life ahead and the benefits you can bring to others.
If you need additional assistance, ClearSky Life Transitions works with veterans post-deployment to assemble all the components of a new life. Call today for a free consult and reduced rates. ClearSky loves vets!