Mark Hedman: You Can Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life

Veterans face a difficult task when returning to civilian life after a military career. Vets from the post 9/11 era have even more trouble with the transition to the civilian world than those of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Finding a job outside the military world can prove frustrating because civilian employers translate military experience differently. A supervisor in the military may only qualify for an entry-level career or job in the civilian world. There’s a significant communication barrier as far as understanding what people in the military experience or what the job involves. Also, many veterans never learned the skills required to search for work. This problem alone often overwhelms veterans.

Let’s not forget that not everyone transitioning out of the military is healthy and able to find work. Injured veterans face many struggles because, when they come home, they can’t work. They face things like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mental health problems, and severe injuries such as the loss of limbs. There are resources and organizations that provide help for veterans, and even you can help them adjust to civilian life.

Why Veterans Find It Difficult to Transition to Civilian Life

Veterans often find that their civilian friends and family don’t understand what military life is like and the experiences they face. This barrier creates a large communication gap and the feeling of loneliness.

Returning to family roles is hard. Vets must re-integrate into the household and re-develop their role in the family.

In the service, the military provides everything you need, such as shelter, clothing, food, and other necessary items. They even have schedules for everything in your life like work, mealtimes, and sleep. Transitioning back into the civilian world means that the veteran has to furnish all of those necessities not only for themselves but often for their family as well. This situation can be truly distressing.

When it comes to work, the civilian world is tremendously competitive. In the military, you’re trained to work as a team, but, in the private sector, people focus on getting themselves ahead instead of working together as a team. Teamwork is such a massive foundation to military success that veterans find the extreme competitiveness selfish and unfit for the greater good of everyone.

Help for Veterans

Many organizations exist that provide support for veterans, and there are ways you can help as well. Here are some ways to help veterans.

Sponsor a Companion Animal for Vets with PTSD

Over one-third of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans experience PTSD. Managing PTSD is not just difficult for the vets but for their friends and family as well. It’s hard to deal with the ghosts of war and military service. Companion dogs provide comfort and support.

There are programs where donors can sponsor a K9 and receive updates about the dog’s life with its veteran and their family, as well as its training. By sponsoring a dog, you’re saving the life of the dog and a veteran.

K9s For Warriors provides highly trained service dogs to military veterans to help them recover and heal from both emotional and physical scars. Sponsorship includes training the dog to be a service K9, training materials, equipment, and medical care.

Help Homeless Veterans

It’s heartbreaking that so many of our military heroes end up jobless and on the streets. The Department of Veterans Affairs started the Stand Down Program to help homeless veterans battle street life.

The program was named after the military term “stand down,” which applied to exhausted combat military units that were taken off the field of battle to “stand down” in a secure place where they could rest.

This program consists of one- to three-day events that provide health screenings, shelter, clothing, and food to unemployed and homeless veterans fighting a different kind of war for survival on the streets. Contact your local VA hospital to find a Stand Down program close to you. If you know a homeless veteran or one at risk of homelessness, contact 1-877-4AID-Vet to find them help through Veterans Affairs. Despite how it may seem, the VA does try to help as many homeless vets as possible.

 

Build a Home for an Injured Veteran

There’s a fantastic program called Building Homes for Heroes that constructs homes specifically modified for severely injured vets who want to live independently. Injured veterans need a safe place to live that accommodates their physical injuries. The greatest part of the program is that the veteran doesn’t have to pay anything for the home. Building Homes for Heroes also provides help with financial planning.

 

Organizations that Provide Help for Veterans

Here are some other organizations that help vets:

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Founded in 2004, this organization realized there was a considerable gap between public perception and what was actually happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. No one wanted to acknowledge what soldiers experienced and dealt with. Their mission is to educate veterans on healthcare, mental illness, GI Bill benefits, and more, as well as connect them with other vets.

IAVA is a broad network of post 9/11 VEOs (veteran empowerment organizations). They also work with elected officials to ensure that vets aren’t ignored and they receive the care that they deserve.

Wounded Warrior Project. This organization connects injured veterans with many programs that help them transition to the civilian world. They understand that each vet faces their own unique challenges when leaving military life behind. A couple of these programs are Physical Health and Wellness and the Combat Stress Recovery program.

Other organizations include National Association of American Veterans (NAAV), American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), AMVETSAmerica Wants YouVeterans Support Organization (VSO), VetJobs, USO and Vista College.

 

Mark Hedman serves as the CEO for LA Police Gear. Mark oversees a little bit of everything, from product development to walking the dogs from our Valencia, CA headquarters. Before joining LA Police Gear, Mark was just a kid that was very interested in programming and e-commerce. Starting from the bottom, he worked his way up through all stages of the company. Mark loves animals and the outdoors. He tries to spend as much time at the range as possible or hanging out with the pups.

 

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