Getting out of the military is a great day for most. You've been anticipating this day for years and it's finally here — but now what?
Is it all peaches and cream once you're on the other side? It might be, but there are some bleak possibilities that many veterans face on the other side of service. Now, we're not here to frighten you, but these are things you should be aware of.
This is absolutely the number one fear of many veterans, no matter how successful or far removed you are from this reality.
(Photo via Veteran Action Network)
Sadly, homelessness is as real a possibility awaiting veterans as a life of prosperity. Homelessness in America is a serious issue — and the homeless population is about 11% veteran. Of that total, 70% are on drugs, and 50% suffer from some type of psychological ailment.
There are programs in place to help, but you can only offer help to those who seek it, and there's a general mistrust of these organizations in the veteran community.
Considering that the veteran population accounts for around 1% of the country, the amount of homeless veterans is extremely alarming. If you or anyone you know is homeless or on the verge of homelessness, there is help for you.
2. The mysterious misadventures of the VA
The VA can be a tricky beast. This guy came in for a simple check-up.
(Photo by Senior Airman Krystal Walker)
Going to the VA is a key part of post-service life. For many, it's the only form of health insurance we have in the years immediately following service and is an absolute must if you experienced any adverse or lingering effects of service.
The VA is supposed to help, and for the most part, it does, but navigating the many avenues can be daunting. Hell, knowing where to start can be a task by itself. Setting up an appointment can take months and filing for your proper disability rating can take years... literally.
The best advice for dealing with the VA is patience and perseverance.
3. School daze
How it feels trying to fit in with classmates who were in grade school or younger when you joined service.
(The Montecito Picture Company)
One of the best things about honorably serving your country is that you get the opportunity to go to school afterward (mostly) on Uncle Sam's dime. But going back to school isn't as easy as showing up for class and doing your assignments. Depending on where you land, you might feel like you stand alone as the only adult in an ocean of children.
The fun part comes when you realize that you're closer in age to your classmates' parents than your classmates themselves.
4. Unsure wonderland
What do I see? Just a bunch of veterans trying to find their way.
(Walt Disney Pictures)
Leaving the military is different for everyone. Some have planned for their exit for years; others never considered a life outside of the military. It isn't uncommon for veterans to take a few years to get themselves truly together and on track.
Be ready for a period of self-reflection. Figuring out what you actually want to do can take more time than anticipated, and that's fine. Try not to feel like you need to be at a specific point just because you're a certain age or you've been through certain things. Trust me, I know this is easier said than done, but as long as you keep moving and searching, you'll find your way.
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