Motivation and emotion/Book/2018/Veteran transition to civilian life

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Veteran transition to civilian life:
What are the emotional challenges for military service member transition back to civilian life?

Overview[edit | edit source]

The life of a military service member is an extended piece of battlefield throughout their lifetimes. This explores the crucial nature of challenges intertwined with the transition phase of a military to civilian life. It further offers an in-depth analysis of the issue in correspondence with the aid of real-life experiences of various veterans and other service members. In conclusion, the chapter recommends several homecoming theories and other reconnection routines that can help in stress alleviation and strengthening the coping mechanism of veterans with civilian life.

Leaving the military[edit | edit source]

Trauma is a term that has been almost synonymous to the lives of military service personals. The deployment phase in the military is full of stressful situations and the risk of injury (even death) constantly hovers upon[awkward expression?] their lives. The exposure of a militant[Rewrite to improve clarity] to continued disruption from family and associates adds to the complexity of the transition phase. As during the disruption phase, a major level of changes occurs in the lives of the service personnel and their family[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Therefore, when the families eventually rebound the presence of a pent-up vacuum[say what?] lingers over their relations. Further, the extremity of differences in the experiences of service personnel and their family make it harder to bond and relate to each other's problems. The prevalence of this issue holds a pivotal association with the end of the Iraq war 2011 in the Unites States of America (U.S.). The end of the war caused a large number of veterans deployed in Iraq to transit back to their normal lives making it crucial to address the challenges of the transition phase (Binks & Cambridge, 2018; Blackburn, 2016). The separation from military life brings about rapid paced changed in the social, physical and emotional environment of the military personnel. The primary challenge faced by the person out of the military is generally financial and even psychological[factual?]. In the military the troops are trained for a certain mission in an environment of fair[say what?] explosive devices and combat knowledge. Conversely, such knowledge lacks the appreciation required from the modern day society. As a consequence, the search for even a basic job that can aid them to cope in the real world can turn out to be a gruelling task[factual?]. A moving testimonial of an air force transitioned personnel ( /) reveals that the next pressing disaster that awaits them once they sort the financial aspects of their life is the very fundamentals of their psyche.

A test of flexibility - When reality strikes[edit | edit source]

The reality of the transition phase hits as hard as it can range[grammar?] from the emotional traumas to the financial crisis. The excruciating depths of the situations are explored where the personnel is further faced with traumatic brain injuries incurred in combat. Saban, Hogan, Hogan & Pape (2015) reveals that 287,861 cases of brain injury have been reported in military personals in the time span of 2000-2013. The call of duty stretches beyond its ambit not only for the service member themselves but for their families and caregivers. The biggest hurdle of the adjustment phase as confessed by varied family members in the study is the acceptance of the presence of the injury. The ego-clash of the service individual in such situations make the treatment process an arduous task as they fail to accept the reality of the situations. The veteran families have reported that injuries like memory loss, isolation and infuriated behaviors are fairly common in the transition phase of the veterans.

The key vacuum that separates the civilian life from that of the military is the integrity and honour in which the lives are lead. In military life, the most substantial part of the service was to abide by the honour code and serve the country with strength and intellect. However, in transition to civilian life things are simple and basic and hitherto somehow the veterans are unable to cope up with the requirements of relevant qualifications for a respectable job (Hall, Harrell, Bicksler, Stewart & Fisher, 2014; Sayer, Carlson & Frazier, 2014). It is fairly understandable the convoluted nature of the transition phase[explain?]. However, the solitary solution for the issue can be derived from patience and flexibility. In order to familiarize veterans with the process of competitive employment the military service retirees are advised to seek vocational training. Such training is provided by support associations such as such as the veteran affairs (VA), Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E). However, the completion of such program provides no assurance of employment (Kintzle et al.2015; Hall, Harrell, Bicksler, Stewart & Fisher, 2014). In a survey that was conducted upon 1,845 veterans of post 9/11 period 65% reported psychological and physical complaints (Kintzle et al. 2015).

The thing that complicated matters beyond the natural complexity of the situation is the rigidity and falsifies[spelling?] expectation of the military lives. That is to say, a person holding a really high position in the military and a junior associate would hold a common platform for employment opportunities as their feats are scarcely recognized by the corporate world. Hence, a substantial level of understanding and flexibility in regards to the matter is required upon the part of the military personnel as there[spelling?] achievement in the battlefield cannot earn them a job at Microsoft. The problem here is that our society is conditioned to function by certain norms and rules and the military program does not translate as to what value their training earns in real life (Davis & Minnis, 2017; Kintzle, Rasheed & Castro, 2016). Therefore, it is immensely crucial for the veteran to stay flexible an patient o[say what?] the transition phase as stringency and stringency[Rewrite to improve clarity] would not only increase the hardship of the veteran but would further pose a negative impact upon the firmly of the veteran.

Another reason that scares away the employers to hire veteran is that a large number of vets are known to have unaddressed mental and emotional issues (Vogt et al.). The goals, objectives, mindset and overall motivating factors of a veteran vastly differ from that of a civilian. Therefore it is in the best interest of the military personals to exercise a reasonable level of humility in the process of adjustment to civilian life. As such an act would make the transition process easier for the military personnel and their families. On the contrary rigidity, alienation, isolation, and resistance to the process would only cause detrimental effects upon the lives of the militant and their families.

Financial setbacks - A psychological approach[edit | edit source]

The Morden[say what?] day psychology has come up with varied tools and programs to recognize the causes of the financial distress in veterans transition phase and formulated a well-researched psychological program to combat the situation for military veterans. The hardest part of adjusting to civilian life for a veteran is low employment opportunities and lack of adequate certifications required for the job. The training provided in military programs majorly focuses on physical training and combat skills. However, they do not provide even the basic intellectual know-how of civilian modus operandi such as accounting, business management or literature. The subjectivity of such knowledge is solely dependent upon one's personal interest that has to be integrated with the hectic routine of the militants. More than job attainment job stability acts as a greater setback in the financial crisis phase of veterans. Unlike military lives, the driving purpose of basic civilian jobs is solely monetary. Such job neither creates a feeling of containment nor enriches them with a driving purpose of existence. As a consequence, the veterans feel isolated and alienated from their work culture. To combat this social dilemma faced by the military that leads to financial setbacks in their lives Ahern et al. (2015) have investigated the challenges faced by the militants and devised unique psychological approaches that can aid in the transition process. The psychological approach consists of a twofold approach to overcome the hardships of the transition phase (Ahern et al. 2015; Kintzle et al. 2015; Sayer, Carlson, & Frazier 2014; Hall, 2014). The first approach recognizes the disruptive environment of the military routine as "family". The effectiveness of this approach lies in its reliability and training structure. The military is trained to protect their team in the battlefield upon the cost of their lives. This approach aims at moving the training out of the box and implementing it in a real-life scenario. The second psychological approach deals with adjusting to the alienation phase where the definition of normal is altered to a completely different level

In the eyes of veterans - What makes it hard for some?[edit | edit source]

In accordance to[grammar?] the Australian CMVH (Centre for Military Veteran Health) Review of 2010 the younger generation of deployed veteran run in a greater risk of trauma and post-deployment transition hardships (Thompson & Lockhart, 2015)[Rewrite to improve clarity]. The reason why it is harder to cope with “home-coming” for the newly deployed veteran is that they are young and fierce[factual?]. They live in an initial phase of denial and regard themselves as above the system[factual?]. They disregard peer support and are too proud to ask for help[factual?]. As a consequence, the transition phase becomes harder for them as they are unaware and ignorant of their underlying health issues[factual?].

PTSD, substance abuse and depression have been a common observation in war-returning veterans. What's worse is that [missing something?] majority of such issues are unaddressed and/or self-medicated (Mobbs & Bonanno, 2017). This observation has set in stereotype reluctance in service providers who get alarmed with even a slight display of unwanted behavior. Moreover, another crucial aspect of the scenario is that even after a veteran gets employment they generally are unable to hold it for long given to monotonous nature of the job set in a sense of depression and disorientation[factual?]. Blackburn (2017) unfurls the impact upon the mental state of the families of the veterans in the transition phase. A substantial amount of family members of transiting[spelling?] militant{{sp} have confessed a sense of fear and insecurity arising out of the behavioral patterns of the transiting militant[spelling?][factual?]. Occasionally, the extension of peer support crosses the boundary of compassion and is executed merely because it is the “right thing to do”. The paradox of the situation is that all parties intertwined in the situation have legitimate motives but lack the translation gap in which they can provide for each other. Therefore, the resolution to the dominant issue is patience and persistence from both sides. The militants[spelling?] need to develop a sense of flexibility and understanding towards the peer support and vice-versa. Another perspective of the subject that goes sparingly in ignorance is the drastic levels of life experienced by the dishonorably discharged militants[spelling?][Rewrite to improve clarity] . Chronic unemployment is a synonymous term to the dishonourably discharged[say what?] and the level of hardships faced by them in the transition phase is fare[spelling?] greater than that of the honourably discharged[factual?]. They are not only faced by the same mental and psychological trauma as compared to other militants but further have to face a general dejection from the society and the military family.

The Alienation Phase[edit | edit source]

This phase surpasses through four sub-terrains of the transition phase. The initial phase addresses the experience of alienation in the service and the drastic changes that took place in the individual's military life. The enthusiasm of being free from the military and returning to home lives is short-lived as the normality of lives feel like a lie to the individual and they seek the enthralling adventures of the military life[factual?]. Moreover, there is a huge perceptive gap between the military and civilians; therefore a kind or helpful intent from a fellow supporter can be easily regarded as offensive and disrespectful. To the military, it feels like barracking their source of pride (For instance: - Harry Potter is being asked if he can do magic in a scornful tone because the muggles are unaware of the realities of his world). The second phase recognizes the ineptness of the surrounding "support" institutions of the military individuals. Majority of the veteran reported that the support received by them from the military was inadequate and problematic. Further, the convoluted nature of military legal proceedings made it harder for them to reap benefits out of their honor certifications. The third structure of alienation phase is lack of structure. The biggest disintegration in comparison to military life is that civilian life has no routine structure or pre-set objective. The civilian life feels like a treat for a short span of time but in the long run it feels unproductive and fruitless. The final phase addresses the loss of purpose in individuals of military service. Military life is filled with honor[spelling?], respect and a higher purpose of sacrifice and protection. One feels like being a step above than other individual being served in the military; However, the stepping down and amalgamating phase lacks the key conjunction factor of their lives (i.e. common purpose). Therefore, the alienation phase identifies all the stigmas associated with the paradoxical lives of militant; where the warriors in the battlefield have to fight for mere survival in this intricate web of reality.

A Step Back From the Zone[edit | edit source]

The civilian life is filled with disorderliness and corporate anarchies. The mundane life of a normal civilian is mindlessly manipulated by social stigmas that make no logical sense if seen from an alien perspective. Right from the shampoo one uses to the products in general households are highly influenced by the craze of celebrity idealization and advertisement deceits. Marketing connoisseurs are filled with illusory traps of free and offer to lure in potential customers to buy what they sell. On the contrary, the military lives boil down to mere basics and they disintegrate themselves with the need for mindless junk that is a by-product of psychological trickeries upon the human mind. Another major diversion that has grown deep roots in civilian lives is the obsession with social media. Such obsession has ripped the source of ingenuity from the lives of people (especially young generation) as they mindlessly throw themselves into the pit of lead-dog mindset. As a consequence, the general reluctance to fit into such an environment develops as it feels like a major step down for the service individuals. Moreover, the paradox of the situation weighs the moral right against the majority right. For instance Kintzle et al. (2015) host a conversation between four veterans in which they share a common obstruction in adjusting to civilian life. In this conversation, they discuss the ridicule received by them from fellow mates for basic things like punctuality and seriousness. In consequence, the role that every individual plays in society is unique and does not necessarily need conformity from the fellow crowd. Therefore, the militants are recommended to integrate their lives in such a way that they inspire their surrounding instead of interpreting their assertions in a negative way.

Quiz[edit | edit source]

Here are some example quiz questions - choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 Select the correct answer for "Alienation Phase" from the below?[explain?][Rewrite to improve clarity]} - Enthusiasm of being free from the military + Recognizes the ineptness of the surrounding - Substantial level of understanding and flexibility in regards to the matter - The military is full of stressful situations and the risk of injury

{When did the Iraq war ended in USA?


2 What is the time span that has been reported of brain injuries in military personals?


3 How many cases of brain injuries has been reported in military personals?


4 What is PTSD means in Military ?

Peer Technological System Department
Parent Transition Study Developmental
Photo Tagging System Development
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The Transition[edit | edit source]

The key analytical research based upon what actually helps the militant in the transition phase is subjectively related to the recognition of their military feats in one manner or the other[factual?]. The primary help practices recognized by varied health groups is military mentoring. The military code has this unique precision that can be interpreted by the military itself. A majority of veterans who were helped by a military peer or military based help system showcased a rapid and efficient level of adjustment to the transition phase. In a detailed study conducted by Ahern et al. [when?] a militant[spelling?] is observed to confess that the only person with whom he could share his concerns was his ex-military uncle who guided him through the transition phase; whereas, his other peers such as his mom was completely unaware of his emotional and psychological turmoils. The mutual mentorship among the veterans not only guided each other with the social impediments faced by them but further aided them with a certain level of emotional support. Another helpful strategy to cope with the military transition was to embrace and communicate their sense of pride as a mascot for their world (Ahern et al.). This strategy is not even nearly efficient to the military guidance however it attempts to address the gaps between the military and civilian lives. The dramatic portrayal of pitch-perfect characters in a movie setting has pre-set the notion of the military in the minds of the civilian to certain limitations. Therefore, the task of communication of the reality is an extension of the already arduous task as it initially requires the deletion of the pre-conception about the military lives and thereafter introduction of the perceptive reality. Nevertheless, a positive outlook towards the transition phase makes it easier to cooperate in the situation. The final and the most crucial strategy that aids in the transition phase is time. The indifference created in the lives of the fellow military and civilian personals are not of reversible nature. However, with time the mutual acceptance of the situation sets in and makes it easier to co-exist in a differential environment. Consequentially, the need for flexibility and patience is evident in order to anticipate the intricate of the transition phase.

In the military, people have a greater purpose to life where they live their lives with honor, sacrifice and a higher level of moral code. As a consequence, they hold a high level of self-importance and responsibilities. However, in civilian life, there is no defined objective of how life should be. Additionally, in military life, a lot of personals lack the time or discretion to attain supplementary educational certification for future tenacities. Such an act causes them an arduous level of encumbrance to re-instigate their educational course in order to gain a higher level of acceptance in the job market. Kintzle et al. 2015 revealed that the majority of transition issues faced by veterans are the hardship associated with employment opportunities. The need of the hour is to remodel a special process in which the skill developments of the militants can be successfully translated into a valuable civilian life program

Endless Opportunities[edit | edit source]

The flaw lies somewhere in the system of the military. They design soldiers as an object of war. They train them to be alert, sharp and inept to disturbing levels of violent situations. However, they fail to protect the individual's psyche that gets damaged as an aftermath of the post-war period. The need of the hour is to design a system that trains the mind more than it trains the body. Conversely, one can argue that the uncertainties involved in the war are beyond the apprehension of any individual. Further, it is impossible to pre-assume as to how drastically the situation of the war-zone can deteriorate in a very short time span. Therefore, in practicality, the training of reality in military services is reality itself. However, there is a stringent need for the military system to adopt a training scheme that nourishes the mind with the strength and positivity required to combat the stress of the war zone. Simple acts of self-reflection and post-war mentoring integrated into the process of training can make a vast impression upon the after war lives of veterans. As they are respectably idealized by a majority of folks, however, the perplexity of the situation creates a vast vacuum of ambiguity in regards to their role in the civilian society. The Veteran health association (VHA) have recognized the prevailing issues of the transition phase and funded resourceful researcher to innovate techniques that can aid in the mental and emotional wellbeing of the veterans (O’Leary, T. J., Dominitz, J. A., & Chang, K. M. (2015). This act is viewed as a step in the right direction and the positive aspect of the matter is that the critical nature of the subject is slowly coming into light and is being analyzed by trained professional. The ambit of such research has developed several health programs to aid the veteran in adjusting to the civilian lives along-with combating their emotional and psychological traumas. However, the scope of research is fairly limited and should extend to prevention of the trauma in the first place rather than coping with trauma.

The “Military Family”[edit | edit source]

This approach is differentiated into two major themes: - Care and Structure. The military atmosphere no matter how traumatic is a world of its own. Therefore when service personals come together they share this unique bond that cannot be extended to a civilian. The military family, with a general exception of a small minority, refers to itself as this unique family that in a way knows each other better than anyone else does. It’s like Harry Potter and the muggles (Napolitano, 2016). The protagonist is trained, powerful and knows he has a greater purpose to life. However, he is forced to exist in the muggle (Non-Magic) world with no purpose, aim or power. Therefore, military bonding is unique and respectful as no amount of words and understanding can combat the reality of experiences shared in the battlefield. Therefore, this psychological approach brings together the military family in the real world in order to mutually assist them to cope with civilian life. A structure is the core of military training; conversely, the lives of civilians are filled with chaos and anarchy. This approach aims at formulating simplified structures for the military personals so that they can focus upon one task at a time (Replicating the black & white environment in the military i.e. give and obey orders; (Osiel, 2017)).

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The transition phase in the lives of militants is traumatic on a multidimensional level. The regression of war, the intricacies of the battlefield and the separation from peers cause a heightened level of transformation in the deployed veterans. The same scenario persists in the lives of their peers causing a sense of vacuum between their lives. The initial enthusiasm of home-coming is soon replaced with the feeling of alienation and isolation. The members of the military look at the civilian world from a completely different perspective and the same hold true for the contrary. The acceptance offered from the civilian environment is undesired and hostile both in an unintentional and intentional manner. At instances, varied support groups make efforts to extend their empathy to the military personnel but end up hurting them as a consequence of the insensitive nature of their questioning. Conversely, service providers and other peer report reluctance towards integrating military personnel in their cultural environment as a stereotypes consequence of their underlying mental issue (Cooper, Caddick, Godier, Cooper & Fossey, 2018). The paradox of the society is that it either idealizes it or alienates it. The indecisiveness of the role of the military personnel outside the battlefield is viewed as a major source that leads to the birth of such complexities. The various psychological approaches discussed in this chapter initiates with an analytical research of the pattern of the transition phase based on the experiences of several veterans. The transition phase recognizes that the military in itself in its stressful combat environment is referred to as family as it guides and protects its fellow militants on a deeper level. Therefore, this approach explores the military peers of the member and aids them to mutually grow out of their social impediments. The second approach recognizes the feeling of alienation in the militant and guides them patiently through the transition phase. A major setback that makes it even harder for militants to cope in the civilian environment is rigidity and denial of the underlying health issues. Therefore, the recommendation to the service members and their peers is to formulate a social circle of ex-military personals who can mutually aid each other by sharing their personal experiences. Further, they should uplift their intricacies towards a positive direction and invest themselves in socially and mentally challenging tasks to reintegrate them with the sense of exhilaration of the battlefield. In conclusion, the service member should develop a positive outlook towards their transition phase and implement themselves in such a way in which they inspire the crowd to follow their lead instead of merely stepping back into the civilian routine.

References[edit | edit source]

(2018). Retrieved from /

Ahern, J., Worthen, M., Masters, J., Lippman, S. A., Ozer, E. J., & Moos, R. (2015).

The challenges of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans’ transition from military to civilian life and approaches to reconnection. PloS one, 10(7), e0128599.

Binks, E., & Cambridge, S. (2018). The transition experiences of British military veterans. Political Psychology, 39(1), 125-142.

Blackburn, D. (2016). Transitioning from military to civilian life: examining the final step in a military career. Canadian Military Journal, 16(4), 53-61.

Blackburn, D. (2017). Out of uniform: psychosocial issues experienced and coping mechanisms used by Veterans during the military-civilian transition. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 3(1), 62-69.

Cooper, L., Caddick, N., Godier, L., Cooper, A., & Fossey, M. (2018).

Transition from the military into civilian life: An exploration of cultural competence. Armed forces & society, 44(1), 156-177.

Davis, V. E., & Minnis, S. E. (2017). Military veterans’ transferrable skills: An HRD practitioner dilemma. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 19(1), 6-13.

Hall, K. C., Harrell, M. C., Bicksler, B. A., Stewart, R., & Fisher, M. P. (2014). Veteran Employment. Rand Corporation.

Kintzle, S., Keeling, M., Xintarianos, E., Taylor-Diggs, K., Munch, C., & Hassan, A. M. (2015). Exploring the Economic & Employment Challenges Facing US Veterans.

Kintzle, S., Rasheed, J. M., & Castro, C. A. (2016). The state of the American veteran: The Chicagoland veterans study.

Mobbs, M. C., & Bonanno, G. A. (2017). Beyond war and PTSD: The crucial role of transition stress in the lives of military veterans. Clinical psychology review.

Napolitano, M. (2016). "So tough, so brave, the consummate survivor": War, Trauma, and Disability in the Harry Potter Series. Lessons in disability: Essays on teaching with young adult literature, 177-199.

Osiel, M. J. (2017). Obeying orders: atrocity, military discipline and the law of war. Routledge.

Saban, K. L., Hogan, N. S., Hogan, T. P., & Pape, T. L. B. (2015). He looks normal but… challenges of family caregivers of veterans diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Rehabilitation Nursing, 40(5), 277-285.

Sayer, N. A., Carlson, K. F., & Frazier, P. A. (2014). Reintegration challenges in US service members and veterans following combat deployment. Social Issues and Policy Review, 8(1), 33-73.

Thompson, J. M., & Lockhart, W. (2015). Backgrounder for the Road to Civilian Life (R2CL) Program of Research into the Mental Health and Well-Being of Canadian Armed Forces Members/Veterans During Military-Civilian Transition. Charlottetown, PE: Veterans Affairs Canada (Vol. 52, pp. 51-8).

Research Directorate Technical Report. 14 May 2015. VAC Research Directorate Technical Report.

Vogt, D., Smith, B. N., Fox, A. B., Amoroso, T., Taverna, E., & Schnurr, P. P. (2017). Consequences of PTSD for the work and family quality of life of female and male US Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 52(3), 341-352.