Life After Discharge for Combat Veterans

Starting Your New Life After Discharge

Life after Discharge

Life immediately after discharge can be a stressful time, especially if you’re not sure what you want to do with your life, or even what your options are. If you have a service-related disability, you may be even more stressed out. For those still dealing with their experiences during service, this time can be extremely difficult, but even for those who never saw combat, discharge brings a host of changes to your life that can really stress you out and even depress you. Many veterans have a hard time coping with life immediately after discharge, and in this article, we’re going to give you some options of what you can pursue now that you’re out, and also give you some strategies for coping with the changes.


Your Options After Discharge

It’s actually really simple: you need to get a job. Unless you’re 100% disabled (and sometimes even if you are), getting a job is just part of life. Getting a job is the only thing you really have to do. Getting more education, buying a house, getting married – all those things are good, but they aren’t things you have to do, so don’t get really stressed about those things. Take care of them as you can, and focus on enjoying your new found freedom. If you’re not sure what career path you want to take, narrow it down to three or four and use your first semester in college to take an entry-level class in each one. That will give you a clearer picture of which one you like the most. If you’ve already graduated by your time of discharge, then you should have a better idea of what you want to do with your life, and that makes your job search easier. If you are looking at starting college after discharge, then you can start by finding a job that will work with your school schedule, and then work on finding a job that correlates with your chosen career field as time goes on.


If college is not your thing, then feel free to take a look at tech schools and certification programs in your field of choice. Believe it or not, electricians and plumbers make pretty good money, and it takes only a short certification program to get started. Many military vets get frustrated with the college experience and end up stopping before they get their degree. If college isn’t for you, that’s totally fine. You can be a perfectly successful person without a college degree.


Some Tips on Coping

Number one: stay busy. The more downtime you have, the more depressed you get. Why? My theory is that the fewer demands you have on your time the less you feel like people actually need you, and that can be deeply depressing. For whatever reason, keeping busy really helps a lot with adjusting from military life. Going to school and having a job should keep you pretty busy, so it’s a great combination.


Number two: stay in shape. Physical fitness is directly related to mental health. Keep exercising and stay in good shape. Go running or hit the gym at least 4-5 times per week. If you stay in good shape, your self-esteem will be higher, you’ll feel happier overall, and you’ll have a more optimistic outlook on life. I know it can be hard to find time to exercise, especially if you’re consciously trying to stay busy, but it’s completely worth it. It may not seem to be related to any of your goals, but it’s essential to a well-rounded life.


Number Three: Don’t sweat it. Things are going to happen that you didn’t plan on, and that you wish didn’t happen. Don’t worry about it. You might be three years into your degree and realize that you want to do something else. That’s fine, and there’s no reason to let it stress you out. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and the areas you need help. If you are suffering from PTSD or other traumatic injuries, recognize that you need help and seek it out. Understand that you are different and that you need additional help and that’s not a problem.



Hopefully, some of that advice was useful. Let us know in the comments!


Is Veteran Unemployment as Big of an Issue as it Seems?

Short answer: No. Long answer: see below.

It seems that there is no shortage of politicians swept up in a righteous fury about the rate of unemployed veterans. While the author certainly would never claim to have any sort of doubt about the sincerity of a politician’s claims, it certainly seems that an awful lot of veterans are unemployed. But is this actually the case?

The unemployment rate among post 9/11 veterans continues to decline, as it has all year so far, from 11.7% in January to 7.2% in June, compared to 7.9% for the nation as a whole in January, and 7.6% in June. So currently a greater percentage of veterans are employed than other americans, though that was not true as recent as a few months ago. But the overall data for veterans of all ages shows that in June the unemployment rate for all veterans was 6.3%, much lower than the nation as a whole.

So as a whole, veterans are better off in the unemployment area than the rest of the nation, but newer generation veterans are much closer statistically to the rest of the nation, and only the last few months have they been so; previous to March, the unemployment rate of post 9/11 veterans was much higher than the national average.

It is interesting to compare the male veteran unemployment rate with the female veteran unemployment rate. The female unemployment rate tends to jump up and down each month quite a bit – from 4.9% in May to 8.9% in June of this year. The unpredictable and extreme nature of the statistic is commonly attributed to the significantly smaller sample size – meaning that when one female veteran gets a job, it affects the percentage more than when one male does, because there are more male veterans than female.

As of right now it is uncertain what is causing the unemployment rate among post 9/11 veterans to drop so drastically. Many theories exist, including little-publicized policies passed by congress or the expansion of the VA which provide benefits for businesses who hire veterans. One theory that has some credence is how much the topic of veterans has been in the news lately, and it’s potential effect on the minds of business owners and hiring managers. Whatever the cause, the unemployment rate will hopefully continue to go down, not only for veterans but for the U.S. as a whole.

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