Many times when a service member leaves the military to come home, there is an identity crisis that happens during the transition from active service to civilian life. The first few months are great. You served your Nation and you served your Nation with honor. You know you have done many things that others haven’t and you feel as if you can take on the switch from the military to being a civilian, easily. We believe that we will be able to find employment that will be able to let us live a good life and provide for our families.
This is when the reality finally slaps us in the face. We will hear over and over again “Thank you for your service!”, but the benefits that you were told would be offered to you at your enlistment or commissioning after your time in the service has ended, are sub-par, if even available to you. There are many veterans today that believe the Veteran Affairs and other organizations have turned their backs on them. I do not know if any of these claims are true or untrue. What I do know, is that the world isn’t what you believe it will be when you finally receive your DD-214.
Then there is a point in a veterans life when they decide that the military is the only life for them. So, they successfully join up again, if they did not sustain injuries during their first term in the service, or they try to join again, only to be denied because they were injured. If you are injured, whether it is mentally, or physically, it can begin to feel as if you are a burden on society. You feel like a broken person, that now needs to be cared for, and you can’t give anything back. This is where many of us need to check ourselves. There have been too many times in my own life, that I have thought, “wow life would be so much easier for my family if I were to just kill myself!” I know this thought goes through almost every veteran head when they finally get out. It isn’t something we like to talk about or admit either. We must remember- we ARE NOT a burden to our families or societies. Our families love us and if you don’t have “family”, your friends that you served with will feel the pain of your loss for the rest of their lives. They love you just as if you were family, whether they showed you it while you were serving together or not.
I know that this article is sad and maybe a little skewed. This is what it is like though to finally receive your “freedom” from the United States Armed Forces. Serving in the Marine Corps will be something I will always cherish and be proud of; deploying to Afghanistan and serving next to these young men that were willing to die for me. It is a feeling and a bond that you can never forget. This is another piece of life that we will always long to have again after leaving the service.
It is my hope, however, through talking openly and admitting our fears that we can help one another to get through these battles with our minds and our bodies. Let’s enjoy our new-found freedom and take the world on together!