Military Transitions And Post-Military Growth: Moving Past “The 22”
by Justin Redmond
“Always have heart, never be afraid to fail, and never quit on yourself or others”
Transitional periods from active duty to the civilian life are not as easy as some people perceive them to be. We have been trained to fight, remain situationally aware, and easily handle the stressors of life. That’s not just something most of us can turn on and off like a light switch.
I have seen some amazing things happen in our veteran community that no one anywhere else can ever think of or even understand. We have veteran-themed blogs, Instagram accounts, Facebook communities, social groups, and most importantly, we have family. Maybe not blood family, but it’s close enough. Yet every day, we still have veterans committing suicide. Why? What is it that makes one brother or sister take their life because they cannot “handle it” any more?
Disclaimer: I am no expert except with a rifle. I am not a physiologist, psychologist, or any specialist of any study. I am simply observing what I have felt and what I have heard and seen.
I had a hard transition myself; I made the struggle for over 3 years just trying to get on my feet. I was jumping from job to job in Los Angeles; I even went from the IRR (inactive Reserves) to TPU or normal reservist. But I do know how hard it is to make “that transition.”
When I put my name down for my second deployment, I didn’t know it would have the biggest impact of any decision of my life. Upon return I struggled to find my inner self that I had lost while deployed that second time.
When I returned I tried just about everything. I applied to different police/sheriff departments. I enjoyed the gym so much at the time I even applied to work at the gym (Free membership? Yes please!). I worked protective gigs for executives, going to movie premieres, to the Golden Globes, and even the Grammy Awards. I found myself in the comfortable situation with that BUT it all faded fast because the industry is nothing but a bunch of guys out for themselves, who lie, cheat and steal client contracts to get ahead (luckily karma caught up, and fast).
I was missing something still; I was making a decent amount of money to get me by, but I had no passion. I had no purpose. In the military we had that purpose, we would get up, go to PT, talk smack with the brothers and sisters around us and who knows what else. Every day we got paid to enjoy what was around us, and embrace the suck at the same time. As soon as that DD214 is in your hand and you on your way home your smiling, until you don’t get up for PT anymore, you’re not having those small gathering of family on the weekends and four days, or traveling to different destinations. It hits you like a brick wall.
“Now what?” After you’re out of the military you ask yourself this probably about a few times a day and then it becomes a habit. You lose the motivation you one had, the drive to get up early to tackle the task for the day, etc. You’re still on “leave” because you didn’t sell back the leave you accrued while you were still in. You used it and got paid and were able to use this time for job hunting. So, about that job… what job, right? Let me skip this negativity and get to the point: you have to find another mission. Something you’re passionate about; that same passion you had while you were in the military.
I found passion in mentoring the youth, guiding them through their steps of life to better and more prosperous life. I coached lacrosse for a high school which I absolutely loved. I ran, lifted weights, and practiced; it kept me sane along with a healthy mindset.
My question to all of you is what’s your passion? You’re down in the slumps because you failed to find the inner you, the passion that helped you take every step forward to progress and success.
Why? I can tell you that I found it again, if I can you can as well. Yeah, ok I got back in the military and am currently waiting on the warrant officer board, but I love flying, I have a great passion for helicopters, and a want and drive to be the best damn pilot there is. So that’s what did it for me.
Again, find your passion, and come to grips with why have you failed to acknowledge that it is right in front of you and that can lift you up make you the happiest man or women alive. Your fears, doubts, insecurities, can all be swept away. Here is something that has gotten me through some tough times, maybe it will help you, too:
“Standing here is a brick wall which represents one “self.” It may not be sturdy and brand new, but it is experienced, weathered and yields promising results. One side of it is the predators you have allowed to follow you in your shadow: shame, guilt, selfishness, ego, and anger among other demons. These predators are now beating the brick wall. Is it just a matter of time before this wall falls?
Wait, though: on the other side of the wall, the side you’re standing on, is the ethics of character, integrity, sincerity, morality, righteousness, and purpose. These ethics bind together and are helping the wall stay upright and in shape. The wall can either let the fall or it could be damaged and never rebuilt because it lost its purpose. There is no “hope” because hope does nothing, hope won’t get anything accomplished. Then there is the choice of enabling the acceptance of the ethics to keep you standing and strong maybe even help repair you.
Luckily this “self” chooses the latter. Predators are overpowered, and ethics keep the wall standing. The predators quit the fight and retreat to the shadow again. The wall suffers minimal damage and pain. Representing all this is acceptance of resilience. You have held yourself together, used your ethics to hold you together and not allow outside negative factors tear you down.
This is a constant battle and you must remain standing and never let the predators get the best of you. We are human, yes we are fragile people, we all have weak points and that is ok. We learn to deal with this and fill the gaps with our true beliefs.
Here they come again, the predators, appearing from the shadow, what side you going to choose?”
There are plenty of resources available. If no one truly cared there would be no resources and we’d all truly be on our own. But that’s not the case. Brothers and sisters, we all care for each other. Transitions are difficult, but we can all work through them together. Let’s all do our parts.