Starting Your New 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!