Hey Veteran thank you for your service!
Now that you are out of the military you are probably dealing with any number of issues from being just flat out afraid or unsure of what steps to take next. Having strained or broken love life: to having multiple physical injuries, or even worse a degraded state of mental health.
However, rather you have 0 or 100% rating from the VA you still have a journey in front of you to successfully start a new life and make no mistake you are starting a new life. So in this article I want to give you a few tips to help you transition from the military to civilian life.
- Get your paperwork with the VA straightened out!
So many veterans’ first goal is to either move or get a job and I am not saying that is wrong but it should not be your first priority. You need to ensure that you get a disability rating from the VA and that you know where the closest VA medical facility is to you so that you can get any treatment or medication you need to keep your body and mind moving in the right direction. If you need help with this there are organizations like the Disabled American Veterans or The Wounded Warrior Project that will help you through this process. The key thing is you need to start it now! Do not wait as the longer it takes the more delayed you will be in getting access to the care you need.
- Do not waste your GI Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation Entitlement just to get a check!
This is something that a lot of people are scared to talk about but I am not because there was a time that I definitely was doing this but I regret it now. Sometimes it’s hard to find work when you are transitioning out of the military so you will be tempted to hurry up and start school so you can get your monthly housing stipend. Don’t do that! I know it’s tough but you need to be very sure that what you are going to school for is actually going to reap some dividends. Hurrying up and enrolling in just any program is often a recipe for disaster as you likely won’t complete it and then when you finally figure out what you do want to go to school for you have already wasted the lion’s share of your GI Bill benefit. Companies like Home Depot, Southwest Airlines, and Walgreens love to hire veterans. Not saying this is what you have to do for the rest of your life but if you can get a job that helps tie you over until you figure out what you want to go to school for that would be the best course of action.
- Get a Mental Health Provider as soon as possible
Please do not neglect your mental health. So many veterans think they are ok and think they are strong enough to deal with everything on their own. The reality is there are some things you have had to make yourself be cool with during your time in the military that are just not normal. That dark and morbid sense of humor that you have (Although I find it hilarious) you have to understand that is something that is just unique to the lives that we have all been forced to live as service members. It is our shared experience and something that civilians for the most part will never understand. That being said there is likely some suppressed trauma that you will need to deal with and talking to a therapist is a great overall experience. Am I saying you need to go weekly or monthly. No! But it is good just to talk to someone and check in until especially if you don’t have a robust support system around you. Don’t wait on the VA there are plenty of private organizations like Better Help that can get you the support you need discreetly and cheaply.
- Work on your relationship with God
God has seen you through your time in the military and believe it or not he is not done with you yet. So often I see people who have defined their lives by their military services. It has been a significant part of your life but it’s not the entirety of who you are. Now that you are not always operating on someone else’s time you should spend some time developing your relationship with God. Prayer and Bible reading are the best ways to get started and finding a good church home for yourself will help you in developing a support system to navigate this transition.
- Ask For Help!
In 2020 6,146 veterans committed suicide accoding to a report done by the Department of Veterans affairs that is a average of 16.8 suicides per day. Please understand you are not alone, there are plenty of people who want to help you have as successful a transition as possible. If you find yourself in need of advice FB has a huge veteran support group called Veteran to Veteran they can answer nearly any question you have. Additionally, organizations like USA Cares or the Veterans of Foreign Wars will help you with paying bills if you fall on hard times. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to go at it alone. Nobody makes it in this world by themselves. We all need help from time to time and you are no exception.
I love you!
God loves you!
Your life is valuable and you matter!
Thank you for your Service to our Great nation!