Army Veterans: 10 Problems Ex-Veterans Face after Military Life
Quirky Articles ep 13
Military life is quite different from everyday civilian life. Apart from the obvious dangers that army veterans face in the course of their service, there are several qualities that make military life so dissimilar to civilian life.
These differences are so stark that ex veterans find themselves having to make the necessary adjustments in order to cope with the myriad of changes.
But adjusting to change is fraught with difficulties. In light of this fact, here are ten problems ex-veterans face after service.
10. Futility of War
It’s okay to give one’s life to active service, to the belief that he/ she is working to defend the interests of the fatherland.
But during the course of service, soldiers go through jarring and unthinkable experiences. Army veterans become accustomed to sights of violence and bloodshed.
They also take lives, destroy property and obey the commands of superiors regardless of whether their actions are morally acceptable or not because according to Shakespeare, ‘all’s fair in love and war’.
All this they do under the milieu of military life. But what about life after military service?
Here the ex-officers are faced with ample time for reflection.
Questions therefore arise, questions like ‘was it worth it? All the loss of lives including those of fallen comrades, was it worth it?’
This understanding of the futility of war can lead to mood swings and depression if not properly handled.
9. Diminished Sense of Belonging
Being in the army instils officers with a strong sense of camaraderie. Individuals from all backgrounds come together with the understanding that their time together is borrowed.
They are also bound by unity and a desire to protect one another even in the face of lethal adversity (which is usually absent in normal civilian life).
This collective feeling of togetherness is lost when the inevitable occurs and comrades are separated by death or worse when a comrade goes MIA, missing in action, thus leaving no closure as to their whereabouts.
Also when army officers retire from active service, they may come to find that the people of their past have moved on. Friends who were once in their youth may now have jobs and families with busy schedules and no time for reconnection.
The ex-veteran is then forced to cope with the feeling of disconnection from his/her past and the understanding that he/ she no longer really belongs.
Boredom is a very real threat to ex-vets. Military life is fraught with disciplined action. There is almost always something important to do in furtherance of a future goal.
The variety of activities could include training for hot and cold weather, first aid, and road marches etc. All these activities are important because they prepare the officer for future eventualities.
Civilian life is slower and more flexible. There is no life threatening event to prepare for and the sense of danger is comparably less visible. This makes it easy for ex-vets to suffer boredom since they are better accustomed to a life of tension.
7. Awareness of the Flimsy Bonds of Civilian Life
As stated earlier, military officers are instilled with a strong sense of camaraderie. Because of the lurking shadow of death and the understanding that their time with comrades is potentially short, they form strong bonds.
These links are so strong that comrades can kill for one another. But because these bonds can only be forged in the heat of dangerous, life threatening experiences, it is quite difficult to develop such ties in ordinary civilian life where events are less likely to escalate.
The ex-veteran has to come to terms with the fact that replicating such close-knit relationships (like those shared with comrades) in an ordinary civilian setting could prove next to impossible.
Army officers are used to a life on the road. It’s normal for them to be redeployed every three to four years or less.
This gypsy lifestyle is hard to shake off on becoming ex-veterans but they have to in order to cope with the more stable nature of civilian life.
5. Absence of Structure
Soldiers are used to punctuality and accuracy. This is because the military relies on the psychology of strict discipline. If an officer is supposed to arrive at a venue at 09.00am, he’s more than likely to arrive at exactly that time.
But civilians on the other hand believe that time is open to interpretation. Time is not the only thing civilians feel flexible about.
Work hours are also flexible, deadlines are flexible, traffic light rules are flexible too and the demarcation between superior and subordinate is not as defined as it is in the army.
This enables civilians to be impolite and rather manner less in comparison to army officers.
This ‘bratty attitude’ of the civilian world can be quite infuriating to ex-vets and constitutes a strong threat to their tolerance level until they become fully adjusted.
4. Unexpected Freedom
The military takes up an individual’s time thus leaving no time for a life outside the job. Soldiers are basically married to their jobs like nuns are married to Jesus.
Also soldiers are not free to act of their own volition. They have to depend on the orders from their superiors.
Therefore the freedom of civilian life can be rather overwhelming to the ex-veteran who may find himself confused and clueless about what to do with the newfound freewill and time.
This is one of the reasons why old soldiers are fond of turning to alcohol and tend to favour bars or pubs where they can drown away their sense of idleness and desire for instruction.
3. Inhibited Use of Profanity
Cussing is the lingua franca of the military. It is used to express all sorts of emotions from endearment to irritation. Therefore like most gatherings where males make up the vast majority, being vulgar is highly welcome and is in fact seen as a way of life.
But the civilian world, especially the corporate world is a bit more pretentious. People are less likely to speak their minds, let alone be free enough to cuss.
This makes the ex-veteran’s cussing habits to become somewhat of a problem especially if he desires to hang around ‘polite company’.
2. ‘How Many People Did You Kill?’
If you find it surprising that some creatures would be callous enough to ask this, well don’t be.
A lot of ex-vets have to field tough questions like this from sometimes starry-eyed civilians who think everything was created for their entertainment.
Escaping death and being the cause of death takes its toll on army officers. They have to leave with their actions forever. And it is quite jarring for them to be reminded of such actions every now and then.
Although some officers find it easy to brag about their number of kills, it is a rather touchy issue that most military men would rather avoid.
1. No Sense of Purpose
Being a part of the military imbues an individual with a strong sense of purpose. There is the belief that his/her actions are important to the wellbeing of the fatherland.
This is because military officers work towards something greater than themselves, ‘a greater good’ so to speak.
Civilian life is much more self-centred, individuals work to not just survive but also to accumulate material possessions.
All this can seem pointless to an ex-vet especially when he considers the more serious nature of his previous career.
This is why they are better suited for jobs like fire fighting or law enforcement.
Now you know ten problems ex veterans face after service. Don’t forget to give us a share. Thanks for visiting