It might come as some surprise to those of us who haven’t served in the military that transitioning back to civilian life is often quite difficult. The rigors of military life describe a world completely different from the one we’re accustomed to. Soldiers and other military personnel put more on the line than their lives to keep us safe, and the sacrifice often takes a toll.
Did you know that 5.6% of the civilian workforce has served in the military? That’s a significant part of the general population. Soldiers experience the kind of trials and trauma which civilians find impossible to contemplate.
If you’ve been in the military yourself or are curious to learn more about veteran life, we’ve got you covered! Read on to find out more.
Civilian and Veteran Life
Civilian life is what most of us have become accustomed to thanks to the sacrifice of others. Those of us who are protected by the brave and selfless are afforded a life secure from the harsh realities of war and infraction. All of our daily interactions exist within a bubble with a clearly defined edge.
This edge is a divide that we rarely think about because it’s only thought of or known about by those who have crossed it. In the eyes of a veteran, the line is clearly delineated and represents the division between two separate worlds. Civilian life is the description of a world in which atrocities are unnecessary and few and far between.
In civilian life, our worries center around problems that aren’t as poignant as those in the military world. Every problem pales almost to the point of being meaningless when compared to situations in which your life’s on the line. For this reason alone swapping one world for the other is often hard to get to grips with in terms of scope and meaning.
This isn’t commonly understood by civilians and can go overlooked or ignored. If you’re a civilian and have never given the respect veterans deserve much thought, you’re not alone. Thanking veterans for their service can go a long way, and costs nothing!
Time spent on the other side of the divide has an undeniable impact on a person’s perspective of what life and reality entail. It’s a completely different kettle of fish compared to the relatively tame and predictable nature of civilian life. A civilian might spend some time considering what it might mean to risk their life or to take the life of another, but it’s pure speculation.
These are abstract concepts that are nothing more than thought experiments for civilians. These experiences form a divide between the soldier and the civilian every bit as real as the divide between the worlds in which they occupy. Military service is a world where every choice could mean the difference between life and death for everyone involved.
After extended periods of military service, the distance between the soldier and the civilian they once began to widen. The gap increases to the point where being able to empathize with someone who hasn’t had similar experiences becomes impossible. When this gap is understood, it becomes clear why the veteran might struggle to reintegrate into a world that is now essentially alien to them.
Veterans who have seen active duty are trained to operate in an atmosphere that would be completely removed from anything a civilian is used to. For civilians, death is a concept that goes largely ignored. For the service member, it’s the air they breathe and simply part of a grim reality that has to be shouldered no matter the weight.
Reintegration into the world they’ve provided for the masses isn’t as easy as shrugging off their uniform and putting down their weapon. It’s no easy feat to shift an outlook from one pole to the other after months or years of adaptation to the constant threat of death and destruction. The common trope of the veteran is of someone who looks through you because they left their attention in the other world.
Honing an ability to defend both body and mind from the ravages of service sometimes leaves soldiers with an impermeable guard. Soldiers form a tough mental barrier to protect themselves against the damage their experiences have wrought on them. This is understood among veterans but is lost on the majority of people they find themselves among upon their return to civilian life.
When you find yourself surrounded by people who have no hope of understanding you, this type of alienation can weigh heavily in more ways than one. Some mental and physical disabilities entitle you to make monetary claims for your sacrifice. If you’re curious, follow this link to learn more!
Making a Life Transition
Re-entering civilian life is tough after living so long in a world where the values and outlooks are so different. Sacrifices don’t go ignored and there are some avenues to help you recoup a little of what you lost on duty and aid in rejoining the world which you fought for.
There are many opportunities to claim recompense for the sacrifices of veteran life and these shouldn’t be left on the table!
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