Many think Marine Corps life is difficult. A profession whose primary goal is to go to war when necessary and until then, to train as if going to war.
For those who have been in a combat situation, prolonged exposure to the stressors of war or who have been injured while serving, transitioning to civilian life can be highly traumatic.
Perhaps those outside of the situation would find this surprising. From a civilian perspective, war and combat would not be a hard thing to leave behind. Many Marines may concede that this would be logical thinking but is not how things actually are.
Much more goes in to the transition process of a Marine when he is discharged. Specifically, he or she can experience guilt for not staying with his or her brethren. Even though a Marine has served their term, they may feel the need to want to stay.
This is common among the Marine mentality. From boot camp they are taught never to leave one of their own behind. This is a core belief central to a Marine’s need to feel essential to the mission. So when it is time to leave the military life, it can be traumatic to feel like not only are they leaving their own behind but wondering how they will function among a population of many who do not understand what it means to be a Marine.
Each Marine is different. Some Marines transition with no problem at all while it takes other Marines years to adjust. Some never do. A variety of factors can come into play to predict how well a Marine will do in the civilian world, but it is never a sure thing. There are Marine officers and those who have graduated from college who may have an easier time adjusting based on already having a degree.
Marines who have a clear understanding of their mission and what is expected of them while serving can have an easier time transitioning as opposed to those who were unclear of the challenges they would be facing or the difficult missions that may have caught them off guard.
Those Marines who faced serious physical and emotionally tragic incidents can have a difficult time returning to civilian life. They may feel as if they have been left behind to pick up the pieces of their life. If they are no longer fit for duty and discharged without a choice, this can really affect them for years after. Additionally, Marines who have lost brothers or sisters in combat can also have a hard time transitioning back to civilian life. On the other hand, Marines who have strong religious beliefs and/or have a family support system can transition a little easier because of those resources.
Ultimately, each Marine is different and who they are and how they internalize their experiences will determine how they transition back into the civilian world. The willingness to seek counseling and initiative of each Marine to get the help and seek out the resources he or she needs will be the deciding factors on how well the civilian transition will go.