Many military and RCMP veterans seem to shift seamlessly into new careers with well established interests and supports. Many others, including the injured and medically released, face significant challenges as they re-enter the civilian world. Retirement can become a series of shockwaves as the
reality of civilian life and the loss of prior identity begin to set in. This can last for years as ongoing sources of stress and disorientation. Major disruptions in relationships because of loss of purpose and identity are all too common.
One’s prior rank, operational roles, black-white codes and military discipline can become obstacles and the usual ways of connecting with other people disappears. Risks of social withdrawal, anxiety and depression, drinking or drug use, and preoccupation with the meaning of one’s life and service can increase dramatically. Many of the activities and personal qualities that veterans put aside to serve can contribute to a profound disorientation, loss of confidence, and mistrust of the broader society.
Out the Gate – What Now ?
Mental Shifts: Sample How-Tos
Turning in one's kit and ID card happens in the blink of an eye but making the mental shift to a new identity often takes much longer.
John J. Whelan
John J. Whelan, Ph.D., is the author of Going Crazy in the Green Machine, available now on FriesenPress.