Every year, around 200,000 military personnel leave the forces. They then need to navigate the often tricky process of reintegration into civilian life. For many veterans, this can prove to be complex depending on their experiences when serving their country. Supporting a loved one as they make this massive change in their life can help everyone acclimatize properly and offer help and comfort during this time.
Learning to live a life outside of the military will take time, primarily if they have never known any other way of life. Habits and behaviors will have been formed during their enlistment, which will likely be hard to break, so allowing them time to decompress and get used to this change will help them not feel pressured into anything before they are ready. It’s a learning curve that can take weeks, months, or even years in some cases, if at all.
Accept The Changes
Again, depending on their role with their forces and what they have experienced, they likely won’t be the same person you knew. You need to accept that the things they have seen and been through, something you might not understand, can change their personality and outlook on life. It’s not out of the ordinary for people to appear to have completely different personalities upon leaving the military or for them to seem like they have totally changed.
Even if they are initially resistant to the idea, knowing where to get help and support for them once they have left the military will help them know who to run to should they find they are struggling. Whether they need help finding a job, ptsd treatment for veterans, medical care, or more, finding your local VA support services or charities can help ease the mental load this transition can bring.
Be Prepared for The Unexpected
Being home on leave and being home permanently can show you different sides to your loved ones. They may run through a range of emotions or behaviors you were unfamiliar with, or they might act differently towards you. It will likely take time to reestablish your relationship and boundaries and get acquainted with each other as far as your relationships go. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spouse returning home from active duty, a son, daughter, relative, or friend. You need to be open to the fact you need to establish who you both are at this point and how your relationship can move forward.
Avoid Too Many Plans At Once
It’s only natural for people to want to connect with their loved ones upon returning to civilian life, but having too many functions or people in the house can be overwhelming. Talk to extended family and friends beforehand to establish a timeline for events, meetups, and so on so as not to overwhelm them. Take things at their pace and allow them to meet people on their own terms so they have the time to relax and get used to a new normal.
Transitioning from the military isn’t always easy. While many veterans reintegrate into society with ease, many others carry physical and mental battle scars, meaning they need more time and support to figure out what they want to do with their lives and process everything they have experienced. Take your time, know when to back off, get help, and offer support when needed.