Defining what “strength” means for veterans can be a difficult thing to do. Despite the word’s ubiquity when used to address veterans and their acts of service, there can still be many misunderstandings about what “strength” truly means. Those who have served in the armed forces can have a very different definition of the word compared to those outside of the military. However, its definition is largely contextual, with what makes a person strong varying by circumstance. With the myriad of challenges that veterans face, it can be paramount to redefine strength outside of a military context to take the first step toward finding treatment for addiction, trauma, PTSD, and a healthy approach to civilian life.
The Needs of Veterans
Transitioning out of the military and into civilian life is incredibly difficult. For many veterans, trauma, PTSD, mental health disorders, addiction, different life experiences, and more can all make it difficult to connect with civilian peers. Some other challenges that may continue to affect veterans include:
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Addressing each of these challenges in a professional treatment capacity is crucial while transitioning to a fulfilling civilian lifestyle. However, to best address these personal needs, veterans may first have to redefine what strength means to them in their lives.
The Potential Dangers of Military “Strength”
In the military, “strength” can often be used to describe not just the ability to navigate high-stress and life-threatening situations while remaining calm on the surface but also to continue to operate in these situations while pushing down personal needs and challenges for the sake of the goal. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that active service members won’t experience anxiety, panic, depression, trauma, and more, it does mean that military personnel will often put an active effort into avoiding or neglecting these feelings, often at a personal cost.
One of the most common methods of pushing down these challenges involves the use of drugs or alcohol to “numb” the senses or placate stresses in a person’s mind. An active drinking culture on base may even normalize or encourage the use of addictive substances, despite its propensity to develop into addiction. However, those transitioning out of military life and beginning their life as a civilian may continue to engage in these practices, birthing new challenges in civilian life.
Not only does the “strength” to eschew personal needs come at a hefty personal cost to a person’s mental and emotional health, but it also leaves veterans without practiced strategies to identify and challenge anxiety, panic, flashbacks, trauma, and more, which can enable such challenges to persist even after an individual has been discharged from duty. Embracing a new definition of strength can empower veterans to approach these challenges in a new way and prioritize their own healing.
The First Step Toward New Strength
Veterans must address these various challenges in their transition to civilian life while also overcoming a myriad of stigmas and unhealthy expectations that can impact their perspective of strength. The first step toward finding new strength is acknowledging the challenges that old definitions may create and navigating barriers and stigmas alike to engage in personal healing. However, for many veterans, these stigmas can be just as difficult to navigate as the personal challenges themselves.
Constantly being expected to be a bastion of this military definition of strength can cause veterans to be reluctant to adopt other definitions of strength. Surrounding oneself with the right support, understanding peers, and resources to address personal needs can facilitate the new kind of strength it takes to overcome such stigmas and take on new challenges in civilian life.
Identifying addiction and its effects on veteran life is the first step toward taking action. We at Hawaii Island Recovery are committed to helping recently discharged veterans adjust to changing lifestyles, cultures, and more while overcoming the effects of trauma, substance use, and more in daily life. To learn how our Hawaii rehabilitation programs can create a comprehensive approach to sobriety and healing for you or your veteran loved one, call (866) 390-5070.More info
Being Strong as a Veteran
Strength in civilian life following a person’s time on active duty is very different than the kind of strength often seen on military bases or instilled throughout military culture. Rather, strength as a civilian is often no longer the antithesis of weakness or vulnerability but rather the willingness and ability to acknowledge personal needs and confront weakness or emotional vulnerability.
Some new ways of exploring strength as a veteran include:
- Prioritizing resilience: Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from stresses, challenges, and more, rather than avoiding confronting them in the first place
- Admitting the need for support: Especially when it comes to challenges with mental health disorders, addiction, trauma, or transition stress
- Committing to self-care and personal growth: Part of this also involves seeing a person’s own worth as equal to those around them
- Confronting vulnerable topics openly with others: This can challenge stigmas and promote healing, understanding, and support for oneself and the veteran community
No veteran has to challenge changing ideas of strength alone, and there are always communities and professionals available to take this first step toward effective healing and fulfilling veteran life.
Taking the First Step Into Treatment With Hawaii Island Recovery
Normally, exploring a new kind of strength will feel foreign and uncomfortable, and many veterans take pride in their strengths and accomplishments in the line of duty. However, finding new strength doesn’t discredit these accomplishments, but rather opens new avenues for veterans to pursue.
Strength is something that is championed, but its actual definition is always contextual. Being strong in one situation does not mean that an individual is strong in all situations, and admitting the need for help while transitioning from military to civilian life is a crucial first step toward effective healing at Hawaii Island Recovery’s dedicated veteran Hawaii recovery center.
Strength has many definitions, and learning to redefine strength in civilian life is complicated. However, it is also necessary, and something that is best accomplished alongside veteran peers. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we are prepared to help you explore new definitions of strength to create the best approach to healing in civilian life. Combining proven, trauma-informed approaches to therapy and treatment with a community of peers in a curated veteran community, we can help you create the best approach to finding new strength for overcoming addiction or addressing mental health disorders, trauma, PTSD, and more. For more information on how we can help you take your first step at our Hawaii recovery center, call us today at (866) 390-5070.