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Life after The Military: Practical Tips for A Happy Life

Life after The Military: Practical Tips for A Happy Life

After some time spent in the service, the old excitement and “glamour” simply runs out. Most people that were in the service realize quite fast that there is nothing noble or uplifting about being in combat. It is a very difficult and for some even traumatizing experience that could leave a huge mark on somebody.

After seeing a number of friends and family members return from military service, some of whom had seen their share of combat, and just how difficult it was for them to reintegrate into civilian life, I started talking to those who managed to pull through and they gave me some priceless advices.

It can be quite hard to get back to the regular civilian life for various reasons. I asked people to tell me about the things which were the hardest for them and also to give me valuable insights on how they were able to overcome them and lead a happy life after service. Here is what those military veterans told me.

1. Don’t Expect Too Much

I know that this is a sensitive subject, but I’m trying to help you and I cannot do this without being honest. Chances are you won’t be welcomed as a hero. Your family will be there of course, but even that moment when you reunite, no matter how joyful it might be, can still be awkward.

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I am telling this to all of those who expect a triumphant storybook return. This might happen in the movies or books, but this is real life and you must prepare for it. Even your first kiss with your partner you haven’t seen for a long time can be awkward, especially if you have been away for a long time and you haven’t kissed for so long.

Additionally, you will learn that everyone has changed. This is the difficult reality of being in the military and having a partner. When being apart for so long in different emotional states, you and your partner will both change a lot. If you have kids, they will change as well and it might be tough on you, realizing what things you’ve missed while you were away.

2. Take Time to Readjust to Civilian Life

Each and every person who’s been in the service and especially those who’ve seen real combat need time to get used to being back home. It’s Impossible to simply leave a dangerous environment filled with destruction, death, and constant life threats followed with personal losses you must cope with, and expect to come back home without carrying some of those things back with you.

Even if you didn’t have a lot of real combat action, it doesn’t mean that the transition will not be difficult. When you have worked for months or even years with the army, taking care of your duty on a daily basis, being criticized or rushed constantly, you might get bored of living an “ordinary” life where everything is quiet. A lot of people struggle with the uncertainties of life and they miss their constant, clear military objectives.

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Essentially, you must understand that your mental journey to a normal life will be much longer than the physical one. Once all of the homecoming celebrations have ended, your transition period will still continue. During this period, it is essential that you try and take care of yourself both physically and spiritually. Focus on your family with group activities, be active and exercise, and the most importantly, talk about your experiences with people who can understand as this can help you during the transition period.

3. Find A Job

There are a lot of people who come back from their service and just sit around doing nothing. This gives them too much free time and they start thinking about the experiences they’ve had and the terrible things they saw back in the military. They start obsessing and bad things come out of it, including alcoholism, drugs, depression, etc.

Of course, you should take the deserved break you need, but after you have started getting used to civilian life you should start working as soon as possible. This will keep those thoughts back and you will focus on things that surround you during your everyday work. Try and find a job that has a higher dose of seriousness and requires similar discipline to make up for what you are missing.

4. Seek Professional Help

Sometimes just talking with your brothers in arm, friends, or family members is not enough to get you through the memories that might haunt you. In this case, you should look to use on your VA and seek professional help. The VA can help you in many ways, but one of the best things is that there is a huge community and a great resource you can utilize whenever needed.

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If you need someone to talk with and help you go through any issues you might be having after your military service has passed, they will be there at your disposal. No matter how alone you might feel, there are people with VA who have talked to a lot of those who had trouble readjusting, and helped them get back on track.

5. Find Your Place in The Community

For a lot of people, the sense of belonging to a group is one of the things they miss about the military. This is why it’s a good idea to get connected with some large community in order to feel like you are home. Of course, you should start by looking for a wider ring of neighbors and friends who have appreciation and respect for your time in the army. There are people who experienced this sense of community by becoming a part of service organizations, civic groups or clubs.

Some veterans do this using their faith and their religious community and they get involved in church activities. No matter what your interests are, there are a lot of communities and you can certainly find one that suits you. If you’re a part of something bigger and helping others instead of thinking about yourself, you can start feeling like a civilian.

The readjustment period can be a difficult time for anyone. Before the end, I would like to mention one thing that is very important.

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“Don’t try to remember who you were before you went to the army.”

Everyone changes after their service and this is a normal thing. You cannot force yourself to be someone you once were. You will change, and other people will change as well. Learn to accept these things and become a part of your community as the person you are at the moment.

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Ivan Dimitrijevic

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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