Many military veterans in transition find themselves facing a very real sense of purposelessness in their civilian work and new life situation.
Leaving the forces and entering civilian life presents any individual with a significant culture shock, one that they should prepare themselves for, and navigate with full conscious awareness of the dynamics and pressures that will inevitably impact them.
What we can say however is that the causes of the psychological challenges that those in transition regularly face are easy to identify and are actually rather obvious when brought to the surface.
Remedying these matters may not be a simple task, we should hastily add, but in recognising them for what they are we can define a clear direction of focus for any individual seeking better ways to navigate these uncertainties.
Four vital areas that we need to understand include the following:
1. Ambiguity and Lack of Structure: Transitioning veterans may initially find civilian life to be ambiguous and lacking the structured environment they are accustomed to. This absence of a clear-cut mission can lead to a perceived loss of purpose.
2. Reconciling Service and Civilian Roles: Finding ways to transfer their sense of service and commitment from military roles to civilian professions can be challenging, especially when facing professions that may not appear as directly impactful.
3. Navigating Identity Shifts: As veterans separate from the military, their identity can undergo significant changes. They may struggle to reconcile their former roles and experiences with the person they are becoming in the civilian world.
4. Missing Camaraderie: The strong bonds formed during military service can be challenging to replicate in civilian life. The absence of a close-knit unit can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from a shared sense of purpose.
Addressing these matters is a mission in itself. It takes time to understand the enemy, to respect their strengths, and combat their potentially destructive influence in the veterans’ life.
Let’s focus on four significant counter-measures that can help any veteran reclaim their sense of purpose and develop strategies for a successful transition.
1. Reflection and Goal-Setting: Veterans should take time to reflect on their values, passions, and long-term aspirations. Setting new goals aligned with these aspects can reignite a sense of purpose in civilian life.
2. Embrace Transferable Skills: Identifying the skills acquired during military service and understanding how they can be applied in civilian settings can offer a renewed sense of purpose and confidence.
3. Engage in Community Service: Participating in community service or volunteering can provide veterans with an opportunity to continue serving and making a positive impact in their new communities.
4. Seek Mentorship and Support: Engaging with fellow veterans who have successfully transitioned can provide valuable insights and support during this journey.
5. Pursue Education and Personal Growth: Lifelong learning and personal development can lead to new interests and passions, expanding the scope of potential purpose in civilian life.
The transition from military service to civilian life presents a unique opportunity for veterans to rediscover their sense of purpose. As purpose is deeply woven into the fabric of military life, the journey of transitioning may seem daunting, with veterans facing challenges in adapting to a new environment that may initially appear void of such purpose.
By understanding the intrinsic connection between purpose and military life, however, and empathising with the struggles of personnel in transition, we can collectively support our veterans in their quest to reclaim and redefine their sense of purpose.
Through reflection, engagement, and personal growth, transitioning veterans can embark on a fulfilling and purpose-driven journey in civilian life, continuing to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.
At TEAM ME® we're exploring new ways to elevate the self-respect, self-worth, self-awareness and self-empowerment of veterans in the UK and around the world.
If you are actively involved in supporting veterans at scale, feel free to get in touch to see how our rapid Personality Profiling solution could help you in your own quest to elevate the lives of those who have served - and still have so much more to give.
Pad is a trusted adviser to business leaders across the globe. He is Director at Come Alive Success Coaching ltd. and the Author of TEAM ME - How to Play Your Best Game in Life, and TEAM GUY - Forging Men of Soul & Steel.