Saturday, June 22, 2013

Coming Home

As it were many a veteran realized the dream of coming home after a war. Sometimes the person you thought was waiting had moved on to another relationship. Sometimes the job you left behind was gone or the plant was closed. Your friends may have moved on. This is not the worst - believe me.

It is when you realize your unique identity was left behind and somehow no longer at home. Be aware that returning from war and separation from identity can be the worst loss. How do you find yourself or  reconnect to your old life. It can be very stressful and many will fall into sorrow. Jesus was often referred to as a man of sorrows. The smiling Jesus we see on the post cards recently is more like the salesman Jesus. Actually the shortest verse in the bible is Jesus wept.

It is ok to shut the door and weep. Afterwards take a moment to identify where you are going not where you came from. It is not a time to look behind but forward. There is no one there to give the order forward march. You have to re-claim your identity and now is a good time to start a new beginning. Learn to meditate and control your thoughts. Believe me a misguided thought can be worse than friendly fire.

The serenity prayer is often a good one:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Instead of hanging around with a negative crowd or whiners, find someone that is positive. Even in the work place it is easy to become a member of the whiners club. In a real company it is not us and them, it is just us. It used to be in the service fraternizing with the enlisted was forbidden. That is old school - in the real world we are all in it to survive - the army of one.

The switch from civilian to soldier, and then back to civilian is all about identity. You may even get angry that your identity was stolen but understanding can get you back on track. Some will ask you to be a part of a VFW or legion and it may be ok if the crowd is positive. Seek out positive companionship , do not try to go it alone. Maybe visit a local church that does charity work or find an optimist club.

My first decision was to go to college but was disappointed with the level of immaturity and left after completing one year, actually re-enlisted only to delay the process of finding identity. The second time went to college again and they seemed even more immature. Now the immature people in the first group were managers and getting into the workplace was hard. I ended up starting my own company and it worked out for me. There were still times of reflection and identity issues but it seems that practicing meditation helped a lot.

Unfortunately the civilian world does not always give you the credit for your experience and maturity. It is better to seek out a government job would be my advice, even it is a small position at first you can bid for others as they become available and you have seniority. My wife was in a MASH unit in the army and it was hard for her to work for kids just out of school that had never faced the same level of preparedness and action. Yet - she managed to get in at the bottom and work her way up. Taking some college courses as time permitted at a local community college. Many have online courses which are nice to try before attempting a class.

Wishing all the best for returning veterans as it seems to be harder with each generation. Pray the serenity prayer and choose positive friendships.

Peace to you.

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