You are not alone.
You are not the only one who is going through the emotional turmoil of transitioning away from a lifestyle where fighting for a cause defined your way of life. It was your job and your responsibility to stand up and defend the rights of citizens that make up this great country.
Other veterans are going through the same thing. Some have been dealing with these feelings all the way back to World War II and every war since. Unfortunately this is part of the trade-off when signing up for military life. How can it not be personal?
Civilians mean well. They thank you for your service, celebrate you on holidays and depend on your to carry the torch of freedom for them all. They don’t understand how difficult it is to leave the military lifestyle and reenter the civilian force.
Here are five ways to help ease yourself into the civilian community.
1. Evaluate your hobbies and interests. What do you enjoy doing? What have you daydreamed about doing that you couldn’t do while in the Marine Corps? Make a list. Then get on Google and find clubs and organizations local to you that offer those things you enjoy doing. This is the easiest way to meet new friends and network.
2. Volunteer. The best cure for feeling alone and depressed is to volunteer for a cause that helps others. This idea isn’t so different from Marine Corps life because in the Marine Corps you are taught that you are serving a cause greater than yourself. Apply this same principle to the goal of helping others.
3. Go to school. Take advantage of the G.I. Bill to go to school. If possible, try to enroll in a college location instead of the internet. This gives you the opportunity to meet new people who will all have the same class in common as you. Start or join a study group that meets often. Participate in any sports or events the college offers.
4. Find other veterans. Your local VFW or VA organizations will be a great place to find other veterans to help ease back into civilian life. It give you a balance to know that you can engage with others who have been through the same transition, share and swap stories, and encourage each other. There are so many wonderful stories waiting to be shared in these places. Many can give great insight to realize that you too can transition well.
5. Attend community sponsored events. Become a member of the chamber of commerce or get on a panel responsible for planning the next community event. Preoccupy yourself with planning things that the community can benefit from. This is a great way to get involved in the community and participate.
All of these methods allow you to immerse yourself in the business of others so that you are useful to causes greater than yourself. This is certainly better than staying closed off at home reliving the glory days and becoming depressed. Your job title may have changed but you will always be a Marine. Marines are always needed. If no longer on active duty, then in our communities.
Source: Personal experience