Coming home is something that most soldiers dream about while they are fighting in countries abroad. The thought of friends and family they left behind gives them something to look forward to. For most veterans, seeing home again is a joyous occasion and they settle into post-duty life easily.
For others, coming home can be an ordeal fraught with challenges and hardships that can be worse than what was experienced on the battlefield. The brave men and women who served need to have proper support in place here at home to combat the challenges they face once they step back onto civilian soil.
Veterans face health challenges in a number of ways. They may have suffered an injury in battle and are now in need of health care. Finding adequate health care can be difficult because they could be in a remote area where they will need to travel to health care appointments.
Mental Health Care
The stigma of mental health problems has lessened over the years but there are some people who are embarrassed about asking for mental health help. Counseling and medication are two effective routes a veteran can take to alleviate their suffering when it comes to their mental health, yet some are not aware that they are eligible for help. Sometimes the help is cost-prohibitive or in an area that is inaccessible to them.
Not being able to deal with declining mental health can cause a ripple in other aspects of the veteran’s life and put them at risk for health problems, unemployment, and poverty.
Many veterans enlisted right after high school so they could start serving their country as soon as they reached a specific age. When they come home after a tour of duty, they find that they lack the post-secondary education for most of the jobs available. Unemployed creates other problems that affect their mental health and could lead to drug and alcohol abuse as well as homelessness.
The camaraderie and feeling of purpose found on the battlefield is unparalleled and can’t be recreated when the tour is done and civilian life looms before you. Some veterans experience a crisis of identity and don’t know who they are or what their purpose is supposed to be once the fatigues come off and the guns are put down. This problem can lead to a whole host of problems like depression, unemployment, and substance abuse. You can help by showing your patriotism for a veteran by thanking them for their service. The gesture might be small, but it will go a long way in helping someone restore their feeling of self-worth.
A veteran could have the most supportive and loving family there is who is willing to do what it takes to welcome them home and make life better. The problem is that no one can know what a veteran goes through except for another veteran and no matter how well-meaning a family can be, there is a gap that needs to be bridged. This bridge can be built with counseling but it takes time and infinite patience. This can be very hard on a family and can raise feelings of guilt and anger.
Access to Information
One of the biggest challenges veterans face when trying to navigate their own issues is being able to access the information they need. Benefits, health supports, and mental health counseling are all great tools if the person in need is aware of them and can access them.
When asked after their tour of duty, some veterans said they weren’t aware of the programs and benefits available to them when they got home. The level of involvement in Veterans Associations is inconsistent across the country and some areas follow up with their vets while others are not as diligent.
Some veterans are disabled from being injured in battle and are unable to get to appointments or even the grocery store by themselves. Without proper support in place, these veterans are at risk of not being able to support themselves or take care of basic needs.
There are ways you can help veterans in your area by volunteering at your local VA office.