The journey from active duty to civilian life is different for each Veteran. The key to a successful transition to civilian life is communication with your Veteran to see what they would like to happen when they return home. We’ll talk about how connecting with your Veteran is important as well.
You’re so excited for your Veteran to return home that you’re calling everyone you know and planning a big BBQ at the house. Or maybe you’re planning a nice dinner at home with a movie for just the two of you. Whatever the case may be, be sure to include your Veteran in the planning. What do they want to do?
No matter how long your Veteran served, they are a different person than they were when they left home and joined the military. The best advice we can give is to connect with your Veteran. Find common ground or even a topic of discussion that’s deeper than talking about the weather. What movies have they seen or what books have they read? If you’d like to talk politics, just make sure if you disagree on an issue that you can remain cordial. Sports is always a good topic to discuss, or maybe what their new hobbies are.
Identifying what they most look forward to doing now that they’re out can help them integrate into the civilian world. When it comes to preparing for finding a job, getting into college, or anything else, ask how you can help. Your Veteran may need help navigating when a University is accepting applications, how to get their high school transcripts, or how to get in touch with a Veterans resource center. These are some great ways to help if they need some assistance. Making connections in the community is also helpful if your Veteran is looking for a job. They may ask you to look over their military resume and help them convert it to a civilian resume. Sometimes the best way to assist with their transition to civilian life is to help with the small and simple tasks.
If you haven’t seen your Veteran friend in a while, that’s okay! It’s always nice to reconnect with them about childhood years, high school, college, or wherever you first met them. After reminiscing for a bit, get caught up with what’s next for you and the Veteran. Are they going to college, a vocational school, or going to work next? Tell them about what’s new in town and about the latest restaurant to open. Ask about their family and talk about what yours has been up to. Finding that common interest is all that really matters.
Your Veteran buddy may not want to talk about their time in the service so just be sure to respect the Veteran’s space. Veterans are just like everyone else so talk to them like you would any other friend. See what they want to do when they come home because like we mentioned before, they have changed since joining the military.
“I was least prepared for the solitude. The military tends to have intrusive leadership, and generally speaking, military life is not private. The family you served with are no longer around you every day. The person-to-person contact is not the same after leaving. I was least prepared for the isolation that comes with leaving active duty,” said one of our team members at VetCV. Learn more about what it was like for our Veteran team members to transition to civilian life.
We hope you enjoy your time with your Veteran and are excited for the next chapter in each of your lives. Remember, making a connection is all that matters so welcome them with open arms and get to know them again!