Veterans and Civilian Life
While returning to their families and homes can be a cause for celebrations, for many veterans, it’s also a difficult process—and one that can have serious consequences for their health and well-being. In fact, according to a 2019 survey, 47% of post-9/11 veterans rated their transition from military to civilian life as being “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult.”
Causes of Re-entry Difficulty
Veterans adjusting to civilian life may experience a variety of difficulties in their personal, professional, and social lives, such as:
- Feelings of disconnect from friends and family, who may have developed new roles or routines in their absence
- Struggling to pay bills and access healthcare
- Difficulty adjusting to the lack of structure in civilian life
- Having a hard time finding a job, which often requires translating their military-specific skills to a civilian context
- Transition stress as a result of readjusting to civilian culture and losing their military identity
For many veterans transitioning back to civilian life, these struggles can be compounded by factors such as trauma, PTSD, or experience with combat. Traumatic and distressing experiences can also affect the level of optimism that veterans feel around their re-entry into civilian life.
Consequences of Re-entry Difficulty
Veterans who do not receive the support and resources they need during the transition to civilian life may be at risk for additional hardships. For example, veterans who are having trouble coping with the switch may turn to alcohol or drugs, potentially resulting in a substance abuse problem. Further, feelings of isolation and mental health issues have both been linked to homelessness in veteran populations.
National Veterans Homeless Support seeks to eliminate homelessness among veterans in Central Florida and nationwide. NVHS takes a proactive, intervention-based approach to homelessness by meeting homeless veterans where they are and helping them from there. Through programs like Search and Rescue Outreach, NVHS helps homeless veterans get the supplies they need to survive, connects them with support and resources, and helps them transition off the streets and into temporary or permanent housing. If you’re able, consider supporting our mission by donating or signing on as a volunteer.