October 27, 2015, by Brooke Chaplan – Being in the military may be one of the most stressful positions in the entire world. There aren’t enough words to express the amount of honor, courage, and selflessness it takes to lay your life on the line for the safety and security of a country. And there’s usually relief, happiness, and joy at the thought of returning home to family and friends to enjoy regular life again. Ironically enough, assimilating back into normal life holds some of its own stress too. However with guidance and resilience, everything can flow back into a normal and enjoyable tempo.
Many veterans experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after coming home from their tours. The average civilian can’t fathom what a soldier has seen on any given tour, and there are many different triggers which can set any veteran off (traffic, fireworks, even TV shows). A veteran may not ever be the same after what they’ve experienced, but talking to a psychiatric professional on a regular basis can be tremendously helpful for working through it all. Group counselling is also a good option, especially with groups of other veterans.
Health & Wellness
Yes, counseling and the mind are major parts of health and wellness, but it is also important to strategically include physical health into your readjustment to family life. A consistent exercise schedule does wonders for health and strength and can help improve mood. Just like a car, you have to watch the fuel you put into your body. Fresh fruits and vegetables will keep it operating at peak levels, whereas tons of fats and sugars will only make you feel more sluggish and lethargic. A veteran looking for a smooth transition must make health a priority.
Plans & Execution
After such an intense experience like a tour, it is understandable to want to come home, get under the covers, enjoy sitcoms and eat TV dinners. Sure, these actions might bring temporary pleasure, but the key word here is temporary. For lasting happiness, it is important to have a vision. Make some goals for your future and make plans to get started on them. It is important to think about your purpose and what makes you happy.
If the goal is home-ownership for example, you might need to find a good job, pay bills on time, create a savings account, and start the process of getting approved for a Streamline VA Loan. As a veteran you’ll have options like low VA rates and discounts on tuition and education. If the goal involves mentoring inner-city youth, brush up on the public speaking skills, and volunteer at different youth groups to get a positive message to them.
Even though assimilating back into regular life might seem daunting, you must start somewhere. Start with baby steps. Share the plans, emotions, concerns, and challenges with family and friends who can help. Get an accountability partner to walk the journey with and to be an encourager. Before long, tours will feel like a distant memory.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.