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Transitioning Back to Civilian Life is Never as Easy as You Expect - Finnegan Pierson - Blog

Transitioning Back to Civilian Life is Never as Easy as You Expect

When you joined the military, you learned a new way of doing things. In fact, nearly every aspect of your life changed in some way. Just as those changes required adjusting your mental perspective, returning to civilian life after years of military service will also require a shifting of your attitudes. Many veterans are unprepared for the practical or emotional upheavals that leaving the service can produce, but learning how your life will change will help prepare you for a new path. 

Have You Really Considered the Practical Changes? 

In a way, the military provides a protected and sheltered existence for many of its members by bestowing a handsome benefits package. The benefits offered through military service help make enlisting an attractive option for many, but it also gets you accustomed to certain privileges. Once you return to civilian life, you'll lose some of those benefits. 

One of the biggest practical shocks new veterans face is the cost of living, particularly if they previously took advantage of base living. You'll now have to pay for an apartment or home, as well as utilities. While groceries on the base were likely cheaper or discounted, you'll no longer benefit from those savings. Additionally, you'll have to pay for your own vehicle, auto insurance, and health insurance. Many veterans find that they're unprepared to handle these expenses, as they return to civilian life. 

The Emotional Impact of Your Transition 

Once you leave military service, you'll have plenty of baggage. The physical baggage can be dealt with easily enough, but emotional baggage may be harder to handle. Upon returning to civilian life, many veterans find that it takes an entirely different mindset than that needed to function in their military careers. 

One of the most common problems in this regard is constantly feeling tense or on edge. This can become so problematic that it can affect your ability to concentrate and perform complex tasks. You may also feel that you experience anger and frustration more frequently, though you may not be able to say exactly why you're experiencing these feelings. This flood of negative emotions can increase stress levels and inhibit your ability to sleep, which will serve to complicate the problem. After a while, untreated emotional problems will begin to affect your physical health. 

How Can You Make Your Transition Easier? 

When it comes to practical concerns, making your transition to civilian life can be easier with a little research. First, it will be important to set your goals and develop an actionable plan. Many veterans find that they must start at the bottom rung in their careers, even with the experience and skills they amassed in the military. Expecting the pay cut that goes along with starting over will help you better prepare for civilian life. Alternatively, you may choose to get training to pursue a new career path. Even if it means trying to work from home before completely transitioning into the workforce. Your mental health is important, and it is worth doing what is best for you.

You should also take the time to research your options for keeping your cost of living low. This means renting a cheaper apartment to start, which can help you save up for a home purchase down the road. You should also contact community veteran's services and groups to take advantage of additional benefits and resources. 

Emotionally, it will be important to take care of your mental health. This may mean seeking out therapy options to help you cope with your transition or joining support groups, where you can discuss your experiences with other veterans. You should also feel comfortable telling others that you don't want to talk about your military service. Whether they're simply curious or have negative attitudes towards the military, it can do more harm than good to engage in these conversations. 

In general, the best thing you can do for yourself is to practice a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and getting enough physical activity will not even keep your body fit, it will give you something positive to focus on. Practicing stress relief techniques can also be helpful. You might try meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Looking for ways to live happier and healthier will help you reduce the stress of your transition while relying on support from your community and your loved ones will help you overcome most of the challenges you'll face.

Publish Date: May 11, 2020 11:51 AM

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