The adjustment to civilian life can be hard. It can actually be traumatic for some. Military life and the civilian life is like night and day. Living in one lifestyle for so long and then changing that lifestyle to something completely different takes some getting used to. If Marines would proactively set up counseling, whether they think they need it or not, can do a lot to make the transition to civilian life much easier.
Even if there are no issues with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), counseling is still great idea. Many Marines feel like they can’t talk to anybody in the civilian world, because it’s hard to describe the experience they’ve had. Despite the best intentions in efforts of some civilians, Marines feel alone. This can be a very solitary experience for a Marine.
Initially, when a Marine transitions into the civilian world, there can be a period of time when all they want to do is go back into the military. That experience is familiar to them. For some, it is all they know. Some will make the decision to reenlist while others may not have that option. In most cases Marines have to come to terms with the fact that while they are no longer active duty, that doesn’t mean they are no longer part of the Marine Corps community. What they have to realize is that getting involved in their local organizations or with other Marine Corps veterans can help them transition to civilian life easier. Counseling is a good start for this because many times they have the contact information for these types of organizations.
There are also situations in which a Marine returning to civilian life is faced with civilian pressures unlike their job in the Marine Corps. Family life, for example, can be a new stressor. Perhaps a Marine spouse was taking care of the children while the Marine was deployed. Now the Marine must learn how to be a full-time parent again. These bring challenges all on their own. This combined with the fact that the Marine no longer feels like he or she is helping to protect his brother and sister in arms while deployed can bring many mixed emotions. There is a kind of guilt that comes with returning to the civilian world and leaving those who’ve chosen to stay behind. Talking through these issues with a counselor or therapist can be a positive, proactive approach to figuring out these feelings getting them squared away and moving forward into civilian life.
PTSD is a very serious and complicated issue among military service members. If left untreated it can cause permanent and lasting damage to the Marine and his or her friends and family. One of the main issues today about getting counseling while still in the Marine Corps is how it looks to others. Sometimes the Marine will feel like receiving counseling is a weakness. Marines are taught to be hard-core and not let anything bother them. This kind of thinking is reinforced their training and from peers.
Another reason is the fear that a record of a Marine having had counseling will appear in their military records. Superiors and commanders face a dilemma for sending Marines back into war. There is a record of therapy. That is why the Marine Corps has offered counseling to all Marines returning from combat. However, at this time, it is only voluntary. They have not mandated that all Marines report to counseling, so as long as it remains voluntary, it will not level the playing field for those Marines that need to get help.
Counseling is merely the process of talking to a non biased person about things that are going on in a Marine’s life. This can happen without judgment or something to gain. In fact, most of counseling is simply listening and helping a Marine work through their issues by asking a series of questions for which they answer themselves. Realizing why we do what we do is the first step in helping us to get better.