What it’s like to be a veteran


The life-altering decision to willingly join the military comes with many side-effects that the general public is rarely aware of. A large part of this never-ending commitment is both physically and mentally transforming. For many veterans, the memories they accumulate changes their core, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.

Military service is undeniably difficult, demanding and ultimately dangerous. However, returning to civilian life can pose just as many challenges for men and women according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

The good news is that 72% of the total number of the surveyed veterans reported that they had a comfortable time readjusting to civilian life. The other 27% said re-entry was challenging for them, a proportion that is too high for us to sit around and do nothing.

Why do some of these heroes have a hard time adjusting to civilian life, while some of the others make the transition with little effort? The answer is complicated, and it can change from one person to another.

A great deal of a veteran’s life is adjusting to injuries. Some lucky ones escape service without losing any body parts, but there are some who lose limbs and fingers, and even the sense of self. When they finally get home to their families, they have to learn how to live daily life with their disabilities, which takes a toll on their mood and life quality.

According to the same study, veterans who had been commissioned officers and the people who had graduated from college or similar institutions are more likely to have a simple time readjusting to the post-military life than the exposed enlisted personnel and high school graduates.

In contrast, veterans who have experienced emotionally traumatic experiences while serving the country, or the group who returned home with severe injuries, were usually diagnosed with PTSD, and thus they found it incredibly difficult to live the life they had before enrolling.

This is why a large chunk of the time gained upon returning home needs to be spent on rebalancing the mind and going to a psychiatrist, to fix those underlying issues. Some even become addicted to drugs, legal or illegal.

The good news is that those who are married and have kids have increased chances of living the life they always wanted, as it is vital to have emotional support and a familiar figure when coming back from missions. Also, higher levels of religious belief dramatically increase the odds that a veteran will accept living a civilian’s life.

So the news is not all bad. On the contrary, numbers show us that most veterans are happy and pleased with their success in the military. It is vital that a veteran who experienced any kind of trauma or distress in the army seek out help when coming back home, in order to repair the damage because they don’t have to live in pain or fear.

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