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Times Can Get Difficult for Anyone

Transitioning from the military is a difficult process. I was ready to leave after serving for over four years, deploying to a combat zone, and engaging in combat. Only sometimes is it the way society makes it out to be. Losing people in your platoon or attached elements can often stick with you. Even though I am younger than those who served during some of the war’s most difficult times, losing someone in this way and seeing how horrific it can be is hard to forget.

Upon returning from this deployment, I spent my last three months in the service out processing and transitioning into civilian life. The military provided a variety of services to help in this transition, but the cultural shock was something I did not anticipate. Even after spending years in different countries, traveling, and meeting locals, returning home and primarily meeting others who never served offered a variety of different and irregular perspectives.

The first step I took was attending a University in North Carolina. Being twenty two years old, I was older then most of my peers, some of which never had a job or experience in a professional environment. With this in mind, it was difficult to relate to those around me. Finding a roommate, or even a place to stay other than at my family home was nearly impossible. The university was approximately ninety percent female, typically and understandably looking for only female roommates. After months of searching, many opportunities either fell flat or were never there. It wasn’t until my first semester was over that I found someone who would agree to let me stay with them. Instead of continuing at the university, I went to Cape Fear Community College. It was here I found people of all ages and positions in life, in turn, making it easier to communicate with my peers.

After completing my associates degree in arts, I believed that I would have increased pay with higher education. On top of working full time throughout college, I had the experience and education, but, unfortunately, I was unable to find a position that would recognize these accomplishments. It was around this time that the mental health issues from both these circumstances and my military experience would seep through.

I felt discouraged, and I did not understand the psychological issues I was dealing with, so I was lost. I spent months locked away from society. After some time, I realized I couldn’t live like this and sought professional help through a psychologist. I was intimidated since many other veterans had told me the timing of the years I was enlisted wasn’t
sufficient enough to seek help, or that they would always find something wrong, even if I did or did not have something wrong. After a long time of thinking this way, I knew things could and should be better.

Following a variety of tests, I was diagnosed with severe post traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. Being ready to do anything to improve the quality of my own life, I went against my original judgment and began taking medication to assist with these issues. To my surprise, I could think more positively, and even began to feel emotions that were at one point absent. I remembered how to love and to feel happy again.

This short article is to elaborate on only a few challenges I had undergone after serving. The point is to show that as veterans, and those who know veterans, it’s easy to set our expectations very high. Often these expectations do not turn out the way we expected, and it is when they do not, the problems we’ve held onto and ignore start to show through and can cause an extreme lapse in judgment. I was at a point I was ready to give up, but fortunately, there were others in my life who would not give up on me. So for any of those who have met this point in their lives, or simply feel as though it could and should be better, get the help you truly deserve.

Below are some things that have helped me work through some of these difficult times, and that I’ve found others have benefited from.

First and foremost:
– Find a psychologist to rule out any severe mental disorders. Remember, if you don’t like who you are seeing, you are entitled to work with someone who works best with you. Secondly, if a medication makes you feel anything other than normal, it means you need to try something different. (Too sleepy, lowered job performance, etc.)
– Suicide Hotline, text or call 988. It is 24/7.
– Veteran support groups, here you will find a group of people who have similar and different experiences, but know the struggle and will be here to support you through it.
– Take a course. These offer the opportunity to understand these issues and diagnoses, coping mechanisms, recognizing issues before they get worse, and much more. (Personally I recommend some humanities classes as it can follow techniques in psychotherapy and courses in psychology)
– Lastly, to improve career development and the likelihood of better job placement, ask your college about courses related to this area. It is guaranteed that most will have some available.
– If applicable, the VA offers a variety of different programs to help in all of these areas.

Final note: Do what works best for you, do not stop trying to do better,
be the person you want to see, and live life the way you deserve.

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