Members of any branch of the military live a unique life, with many having personal experiences, challenges, stresses, and traumas that can be difficult or impossible for those who have not lived through such situations to truly understand. However, younger veterans face their own challenges, especially when transitioning out of the military and into civilian life. Professional help for navigating the challenges and effects of their time in service and navigating this transition is necessary to ensure the healthiest and most effective approach to developing a new life for younger veterans.
The Challenges Younger Veterans Face
There are many challenges that veterans of any age face upon discharge from active duty. For many, feelings of anxiety, depression, and a myriad of potentially traumatic experiences are all common. Whether an individual lived through an active warzone, lost brothers or sisters in arms in the line of duty, or is navigating the physical and emotional challenges of boot camp and on-base cultures, these effects can extend into civilian life and can continue to affect each individual until addressed.
Alongside the prevalent traumas and mental health disorders, a prevailing drinking culture can also influence a younger veteran’s perspective in civilian life, creating potentially dangerous misconceptions about the use of drugs or alcohol and necessitating the need for outpatient or residential alcohol treatment. Younger veterans are tasked with coping with these challenges while readjusting to civilian life and exploring new career paths, employment, paying bills, and creating new familial structures.
Establishing Civilian Life
Many younger veterans may have joined military service directly out of high school. However, this burdens younger veterans with processing and overcoming traumas and looking for new employment while developing new, marketable skills. It can be difficult for veterans to effectively translate their military experience into other career paths. However, there are always strategies that each veteran can use to make this transition easier and empower younger veterans to continue focusing on their own needs, goals, and identity during this time.
Craft a Resume
Resumes can be difficult to form, especially for younger veterans. However, civilian loved ones can be a useful resource during this transition. Crafting a resume and working with others can ensure that each veteran is able to highlight their skills and is designed for job applications outside of a military setting. Working with loved ones and fellow veterans can also help younger veterans better understand how their skills can apply to other career paths, such as the ability to work in a team setting, handle stressful situations, or employ effective time management skills and adhere to strict schedules.
Exploring Younger Veterans’ Identity
Younger veterans also may experience a rapid shift in their identity from serving at a younger age. Being able to explore these personality changes and developments is crucial for a healthy civilian life. Taking time during the transition to civilian life to explore personal hobbies or try things that they wanted to while in the military can be an amazing experience.
Transitioning to civilian life is not just about relinquishing many of the behaviors or cultures prevalent throughout the military but also an exercise in empowering veterans to explore new hobbies, interests, and opportunities that may not have been feasible on base. Local hobby groups, online communities, and connecting with peers and veterans alike in new social communities can all help facilitate this change in social identity. Joining these groups, such as local sports leagues, book or cinema clubs, or exploring any other hobbies can provide a familiar sense of structure and purpose to civilian life that is necessary for such a profound transition.
Engaging in Professional Treatment
There are a plethora of challenges that veterans face following their time in service. Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are incredibly common, with many younger veterans also experiencing anxiety, depression, and more. Politics surrounding wars also affect younger veterans more profoundly, along with the loss of time or educational opportunities and more. Professional treatment may be necessary to process these challenges while developing a healthy civilian life.
It is always possible to continue pursuing education or developing new skills as a veteran, and it is never too late to create a new career path. Using various veteran resources, such as the VA and associated education programs and employment support, along with dedicated treatment for processing and overcoming substance abuse, trauma, or mental health disorders, is necessary for a truly transformational transition to a healthy civilian life.
Younger veterans are uniquely susceptible to the prolonged traumatic effects of military life. Finding communities of peers to address these challenges, connect with others, and celebrate accomplishments is crucial. Community and camaraderie are necessary both inside and outside of military life. Having access to these communities is essential as each veteran develops their own approach to civilian life. Dedicated veteran-specific programs at rehab in Hawaii are designed not just to challenge trauma and addiction but also to instill the skills, community, and perspective necessary to transition to a healthy and fulfilling civilian life.
Younger veterans face a number of unique challenges, and we at Hawaii Island Recovery are ready to help you overcome them today. Between the prevalence of addiction, mental health disorders, and the stresses younger veterans face, a comprehensive and personalized recovery plan is essential for effectively navigating these challenges. Our comprehensive rehab in Hawaii is designed to help younger veterans connect with peers and find the most personalized support and community possible to create a healthy civilian life, all while challenging mental health disorders, trauma, addiction, or any other challenges that younger veterans face. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, call to speak to a caring, trained staff member at (866) 390-5070.