Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to the drive on podcast. So today in this episode, I want to discuss a topic that a lot of veterans. Deal with. After leaving. The military, a lot of the listeners are dealing with this. And it talks about the common challenges that veterans face when transitioning to civilian life.
Specifically finding purpose and meaning after leaving the military. Which in and of itself is pretty meaningful. The. Putting on the uniform, serving the country. Got a lot of meaning and purpose behind that.[00:01:00] That part of your life. And so when you leave the military, you lose a piece of that. And so the challenge is to find.
A new sense of purpose, a new meaning. To give to your life. And when veterans return to civilian life, They face a lot of challenges that can make the transition difficult and overwhelming. One of the biggest challenges is adjusting to civilian culture. Military culture. A lot different from civilian culture and veterans may feel like they don’t.
Fit in or. Don’t understand. The norms are. Expectations of civilian life. This can lead them to a sense of isolation and disconnection. Which can be quite frankly difficult to overcome. And another common challenge that veterans face when transitioning. To civilian life is finding a sense of purpose. [00:02:00]
The military provides a sense of purpose provides direction, and veterans may struggle to find that sense of meaning in their civilian lives. And this can lead. To a feeling of aimlessness pointlessness, lack of motivation. Which overall can be detrimental to your overall wellbeing.
There could be financial challenges as well. As you’re transitioning into civilian life. The military provides a steady paycheck, healthcare, other benefits, which can be difficult to replace in the civilian world. And veterans may struggle to find. A job. Any sort of employment that pays well and provide the same type of benefits.
And that can cause financial stress and anxiety.
And then that leads to mental health issues. Which are also a common challenge that. Are faced by veterans. When transitioning into the civilian life and. Just [00:03:00] during the military service itself, a lot of veterans have experienced trauma. Creates anxiety, depression, other mental health issues as a result of their military service. And these issues can be.
Compounded by the stress and the challenges of transitioning to civilian life and veterans may struggle to find the support and resources that they need to manage. Their mental health. When they get out of the military. Relationships are also a common challenge for veterans when transitioning out and military service can strain those relationships.
And veterans may struggle to reconnect with loved ones when they return home. Whether it’s in their own immediate family there. Their spouse or their children, or could even be people that they left back in their hometown when they moved off to whatever base they were serving in.
During their military time, maybe difficult to maintain those relationships. [00:04:00] Get back into. And can also. Be difficult to make new friends and establish new relationships in the civilian mind. If you had your military friends, you had your team, your squad, your. Platoon, you had the people that you served with.
And maybe hard to find. People who get you. And those relationships are. Struggle as well. And if all of that was in pat enough. Navigating the complex that you confusing bureaucracy of the VA can be a big challenge for veterans when they’re transitioning to civilian life. And the VA provides a lot of different services and benefits to veterans, but the process of accessing those benefits.
It can be overwhelming. And it can be confused. Veterans might struggle to understand the rights that. The benefits that they have and may not know even how to access the resources that they need.
And the challenges that veterans face when transitioning to civilian life. Like I [00:05:00] mentioned could have a significant impact on their mental health and their overall wellbeing. Adjusting to civilian culture. I can be a major source of stress for veterans and lead to feelings of isolation. Disconnection.
And for a lot of veterans, the military. Is more than just a job it’s becomes a way of life becomes a part of their identity, their. Their sense of purpose or belonging. The military culture is very different. Like I mentioned from the civilian culture and veterans might struggle to adapt to the new norms and expectations of civilian life.
Doing that. I mean without you, you ended up with a sense of. Alienation. Feeling like you don’t belong. But you don’t belong in this group of people. And that could. Have a negative impact on your mental health and overall wellbeing. Finding a sense of purpose though, is another challenge that can impact.
Your mental health. [00:06:00] Military service. Like we said provides a clear sense of purpose. Clear direction. And veterans may struggle to find that same sense of meaning and fulfillment in their. Civilian life. You might just not be motivated to go and do things when you don’t have that sense of purpose.
All of these mental health issues. Can just lead to. Additional feelings of stress and isolation, loneliness, all of these things that that go on when you’re transitioning out of the military and. It overall, it doesn’t help when you have a. A veteran.
Who. Might be dealing with. Mental health issues, PTSD, depression, guilt, anger, shame. All sorts of different things. That they may be going through.
They feel like when they get out of the military, they don’t even have a sense of purpose or [00:07:00] a meaning to whatever it is that they’re doing.
And that is a difficult place to be. You don’t want to be in a position where. Your.
Sense of. Self-worth it feels like it’s just disappeared overnight. Almost. When you leave the military, when you take off the uniform for that last time. That was your sense of purpose. That was your. Your reason for getting up out of bed in the morning. And you don’t have that anymore. It’s.
Difficult to replace that. Sometimes. And I think part of it is. That you need to find something.
To ref. Replace that and.
I think in order to. Promote the positive mental health. Outcomes that we’re looking for in veterans. It’s important [00:08:00] to address. These challenges that we’re talking about. And find the support and the resources to help. Overcome these things. And maybe. Professional health, mental health counseling.
Might be helping. Find employment or accessing financial help, financial resources. It benefits.
That exists throughout the VA. That. You maybe aren’t even aware exist, you know, getting more information on that. Type of thing might help you. Navigate some of these things. Might even be support for relationships. And just overall, just. Finding that sense of purpose and community and everything. And I tried to do.
A lot of this through the podcast, but I think as. As a group, we need to work together to promote these resources that are available to veterans and talk about them more. And when veterans transition from military life to civilian life. They’re faced with a wide range [00:09:00] of challenges that may make it difficult to find a sense of purpose and meaning.
And one of the most important steps I think in this process is identifying your personal values and your passions. And this can provide you with direction and guidance. As you navigate this new phase of your life. Your personal values. Are basically your guiding principles, some things that shape your beliefs, your attitudes, your behaviors.
They’re the things that. Are most important to you? They help you make decisions. They help you prioritize. Your time, your resources, your. Your energy. And for veterans identifying these values can be important as. They’ve. Very oftentimes been shaped by your military service your values, your beliefs.
Things, these guiding principles. Maybe different than what they were when you first joined the military.[00:10:00] And when you tap into that, Provide you with a sense of that continuity between your military time and that transition into civilian life. And one way I think to identify your personal values is to think about experiences in situations that have been meaningful or impactful to you.
You could be stuff from your military service, you can ask yourself questions. Like what moments in my military service did I feel most proud of or fulfilled from. What did I appreciate most about my military service? It doesn’t have to be directly tied to your military service though. It. You can ask questions.
What have I done to make me feel the most satisfied? And these things that you reflect on can help you identify the values that were most important to you throughout your life. Could be before the military could be during the military. It could be things that.
Happened while you were in the military. What moments. Did you feel most proud or fulfilled? It could be things that happened while you were in the military, but [00:11:00] maybe it had nothing to do with being in the military. It could be the time that you know, I coached a. A baseball team or something, and you were.
You’re helping out in the community. Those are things that, that. Could ha happen and could have made you feel. Proud that you did these things or feel fulfilled that you were able to do these things. So. You know, these thinking back, I’m asking you these. You’re yourself. These questions can help you identify the values that were most important to you and identify things.
From your military service, like. Teamwork honor service and translate those values to your civilian life. Passions are another important factor in finding purpose and meaning in your military life or post-military life? I should say. Passions are the things that bring us joy and fulfillment.
It can provide you with a sense of purpose. And a direction. And for veterans [00:12:00] passions can range veterans. Actually, it could be for anybody really, but passions can range from hobbies and interests that you might have to. Professional. Things in your career, your job. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur and it could be, you could be passionate about whatever the businesses that you’re running.
Identifying your passions can be a little bit more challenging than identifying personal values because passions may not. Be immediately obvious or they may even change over time. So something that you were totally passionate about before you joined the military, maybe your passion, your interest in that has waned over time.
May have been replaced by other things. Especially as we get older, we have kids you know, maybe some of those passions you don’t have time for anymore. And so you start to lose interest because you’re more interested in something else. One way you can identify passions is to just try new things.
See what sticks? You can go out and explore new hobbies. Volunteer. With [00:13:00] different organizations, you could take classes or workshops in different things, or even. Start a business. A side business. You can.
Try a new career path altogether. Yeah, just to see what resonates with you. You obviously don’t want to be doing this just. On a whim. You want to make sure you have a plan in place. You don’t want to just quit your job tomorrow because you heard it as a great idea on this podcast. You want to.
You want to have a plan in place? If you’re exploring a career change, you know, make sure. You know what you’re getting yourself into. Make sure. You know, before you leave a job that you have something else lined up, or if you don’t that you have savings built up for a certain amount of time. So that way you can continue.
You can continue living the way you have been living before. Jumping ship on the old job and hopefully getting some other job, but you know, ideally you will. You’ll have something in mind lined up [00:14:00] already. So that way, when you do move on to your next job there’s not a big gap in that time period.
Now once when you’ve identified your personal values and your passions. You can use this information to guide your next steps. So, for example, if you value teamwork, And you’re passionate about sports. You might decide to join a local sports, sleek or volunteer with a U. Sports organization, maybe coaching or refereeing or umpiring. If you value service and you’re passionate about.
Gardening, for example, maybe you decide to start a community garden or volunteer at a food bank. There’s so many different options. These are just random examples here that will help you. Kind of wrap your head around some of the things that you might be able to do and how you can take some of these values and your passions and combine them together. And these things don’t necessarily have to be your [00:15:00] job.
They could be, it would be great if you can find the, to you know, combine the two, but it could just be volunteering and that’s great too. And when you align your personal values and your passions with the things that you do, you. We’ll start just find a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
As you’re transitioning into your post-military life.
It’s going to have a really positive impact on your mental health, your overall wellbeing, and. You’ll be able to maintain a sense of connection to the things that are most important to you. And I think that’s a big step. It’s a, probably a critical step in the transition period to civilian life. And.
And the ways that you seek. To find purpose and meaning in your life. Can be as simple as just reflecting on your military service or [00:16:00] other important events that took place in your life, things that were fulfilling made you proud, made you happy, made you feel a sense of accomplishment.
And even exploring new interests or opportunities. That maybe you’ve never tried before. Am I in my personal life, I’ve tried other things I’ve tried even just hobbies. Just painting prior to getting out of the military. I never really painted anything other than, you know, in elementary school, never really was all that artistic.
And I picked it up afterwards. And it was something that brought me some joy, some fulfillment. After a little while my interest. Kind of shifted and I haven’t really done much with it since then. But it may be something I pick up in the future. Again, you know, it’s just our interests change and you have to be open to that. I think.
But I think transitioning from the military to civilian life. For a lot of people. It is a [00:17:00] challenging process, especially when it comes to finding that sense of purpose and meaning. A lot of times veterans struggle to adjust to civilian life. They just start to feel disconnected from. The sense of.
Community, the comradery that they had with the The friends that they had in the military. And they lose that sense of purpose that they experienced while serving in the military. But I think it’s important to remember that. There are resources and support available. For veterans who are navigating through this transition.
Time period. And yeah, so there’s different ways that you can seek out support. You can connect with the community. And overall state open-minded and adaptable. While you’re attempting to find purpose and meaning in your post-military life. I think the first step to.
Finding support is. Asking for help. A lot of times we’re stubborn and we don’t ask for [00:18:00] help. I don’t, maybe we see it as a sign of weakness or a failure in ourselves. But. Seeking out support is a sign of strength. Really? It’s a sign of resilience. It’s learning to lean on. People who can help you.
With. Whatever it is that you’re going through. Many organizations out there and resources that are available. The VA is obvious. A lot of people know about that. But there’s also other organizations veteran. Focused non-profits and other veteran service organizations that provide a range of services.
Anything from healthcare. Counseling education, job training and other support groups that can help you. Find your sense of purpose. Maybe you’re volunteering with them. Maybe you’re getting services from them. But they can help you find that sense of comradery and get you back into into that, which you may be, feel like you’re.
Marking. And. [00:19:00] You know, There are communities out there too. That will help you feel connected to a group the way you did in the military. Because feeling that does that sense of disconnection. From the community. That you had while you were serving in the military is one of the big challenges that we have to overcome, but there are ways to connect with the community, build that sense of belonging.
Outside of the military. You can get involved at local organizations or volunteer groups that. Aligned with your values and your interests. This can provide you with an opportunity to meet other like-minded people. And make a positive impact in your community.
And there are many veterans specific organizations and events that can provide you with a sense of camaraderie and connection with other fellow veterans that. May help you in that transition.
But I [00:20:00] think. In order to. Successfully transition to civilian life. I think it’s important to stay. Open-minded. And be adaptable, flexible. The military gives you a structured in a regimented environment.
Everything from what you’re supposed to wear, where you’re supposed to be, what you’re supposed to have as far as equipment and You know, everything else like. That’s given to you, your your housing is provided to you. Your food gets provided to you. Like all of these things are just provided to you in the military and.
It’s. It’s very structured.
So it can make it challenging to adjust to a much more flexible. Nature of civilian life, where you have. Nothing is given to you. You have to go out and you have to find everything. You find a job you have to find. Food resources. You know, the grocery stores and you have to buy [00:21:00] that food. It’s not provided to you in a child hall. You have to you know, have housing. You, that’s not assigned to you. You have to go buy a house or finding an apartment or a condo where.
Wherever it is that you’re going to live. You have to find that yourself. Insurance and all medical care. All of these things are not a given anymore in civilian life. But with that. It provides a lot of opportunity. And I think if you embrace that change and the opportunities that come with this.
You’ll see that. It’s a lot more flexible and you can build things the way you want them. It doesn’t have to be the way the military tells you. It is. It can be the way you want them to be. Maybe not a hundred percent of the time. There’s certain things or certain. Things that you have to do. You have to pay taxes. You have to.
You know, follow the laws and. So you can’t be. Completely open to just doing whatever. But [00:22:00] there are things that are a lot more flexible than they were in the military. So, you know, re remain open. Two different perspectives and experiences and possibilities. As you’re looking for new sources of meaning and purpose in your life.
And. As you’re finding yourself in your civilian life.
Try focusing on your career. To try. If you can, not, everybody can do this, but if you can try to focus your career on your personal values that we talked about earlier and your passions that you have After serving the military again. It can be tr. Challenging. But. If your career. Aligns with your personal values and the passions that you have.
It can help you provide. Yourself with direction. And fulfillment.[00:23:00] And there’s ways that. You can explore different career opportunities that are aligned with these values and passions. So first off, start by again. Going back to that first step of identifying your personal values and your passions, ask yourself, what do you care about? What drives you? What are your strengths? What are you good at?
Take some time to reflect on your experiences. Both in the military and out of the military. And the things that motivated you. And then think about how those values and those things that you came up with translate into your career goals.
I think it’s important to point out though that your passions and your values again. They change over time. So you may need to periodically. Reassess these things. It may not always be. The thing that you were passionate about, especially as your. Is there going through your career? And you start to feel like.
Maybe. This isn’t for me anymore. [00:24:00] It’s happened to me. When I. Started my business. Everything was going great. I’ve really enjoyed it. That was passionate about it. I got out of bed every morning. Looking forward to going to work.
And then as time went on, I, my interest started to fade. In that. And so eventually I ended up selling the business and moving on to other things. And that’s okay. I think. I think we get so focused on. The way people used to do things where you. They go to work. Job and they stay with that job for 30, 40 years, and then they retire.
And. And that’s that. The job market has changed significantly. So. As your interests have. I’ve changed. Like you. You can go and find something else. Perhaps. No, it may be hard to do, especially if it’s not in the same. Career field, as you started off in. But it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible either.
So again, Once you identified your values and your passions. Look for job opportunities that align with those things. Take a look at different industries and roles within those industries that align with your interests and values. And think outside of the box, it may be stuff that you never considered yourself doing, but.
Maybe there’s something out there in a nonprofit, maybe never thought that you’d be working for a nonprofit or for some other organizations that. Are in fields that maybe you don’t know a whole lot about. But they align well with your values. Maybe there’s maybe it’s just something that you need to learn. Maybe you need to go back to school and learn some stuff to be able to.
Get the job in that industry. Maybe not, maybe you already have all the education and the experiences that you need. There’s a lot of resources available to help you explore your career options. There are career fairs. [00:26:00] There’s. You know, the job boards where you can, where people post their jobs. But also I think.
More importantly than any of those types of things are like the networking events, professional networking events, where you can actually get to talk to people and see. You know what. Do they have to say about the job? And their career. You know, how does that. Fit in with your personal beliefs and your values and everything.
Let’s develop some of this network. You can reach out to those people and ask them these questions.
And again if you don’t have the right skills or the education required, You can figure out what that is and you can go. Take extra classes. You know, you have access to the GI bill. You can have. You know, different. Different things to help you get through that, that your civilian counterparts maybe don’t have access to.
And take advantage of those and use that to get ahead.
And you may feel like, well, I don’t want to go back to school. [00:27:00] I’m going to have that Billy Madison effect. But. Like just suck it up, do it. It’s. Not that much. To do you, you go back to school and just get it done. If you’ve been in the military for any. Length of time. You’re trainable.
You’re able to learn things. If you’ve graduated basic training and went to AIT. And learned your job. Your MOS, like you’re able to be taught things. So if you went through that, like you should be able to go to maybe a trade school or go to college and learn some extra skills or get some extra education or.
It may not even be that in-depth. You may just need to take a couple of classes. To learn a particular skill for what are the job? Is it. Maybe get a certification. In a certain. Area in order to allow you to get your foot in the door at a certain company. And [00:28:00] some companies even offer educational benefits for veterans. So you might even be able to do that.
Through the company. With no extra cost and maybe even be able to get paid as your. Taking those certifications of our courses or whatever. But yeah, I mean, definitely. Like seek out networking events. I joined professional organizations in the. The career field that you’re interested in and connect with people on LinkedIn.
Because networking. Is such a powerful tool. It allows you to meet people. Who I already be in the industry, or know people who are in the industry that you want to get into. You can find out more about job openings. You know, if you’re following companies that, that you’re interested in, you can find out more about their career opportunities.
And then maintain those connections over time, too, because as you. Grow throughout your career. There’s going to come time when [00:29:00] either those people or you. I can benefit each other. And. You’ll be able to work with each other. Going forward, it’s not like a. Let’s make this connection so I can use it right now and then burn it.
Because we don’t ever. Need this person again, because your career, your job may not last for more than you know, a couple of years. You all saw how things change really quickly with COVID. And so that type of stuff. Could happen again. And you may need to tap into that network or that someone from that network may need to tap into you.
And that could provide you with a sense of fulfillment as well. Sense of purpose. Being able to help out those other people. Right. Another great way. To Kind of expand your sense of purpose but also helping you explore different career opportunities is to volunteer. Helps you gain experience in certain areas, right? Think about volunteering in a [00:30:00] field or an industry that is of interest to you to gain your experience, make connections.
Learn about. The career path that you might be going through. And think of it almost like a, like an internship. Where you can. Get in the door, start the work, start to learn about the industry and the field and everything. Maybe you’re getting paid for it. Maybe you’re not. But there’s these opportunities that are out there.
But you know, just stay flexible and adaptable as you explore these career opportunities. It’s okay to try different things. Adjust your goals. As needed, you may try something and realize that you hate it. It’s happened to me before. I’ve started working in a field and realized it wasn’t for me.
You know, I stuck it out for a little while just to make sure it wasn’t, you know, just having a rough day or week or month or whatever, but you know, it just turned out to not be for me. And so I was able to find something else. So yeah, be flexible. As you are. Explore these opportunities.
[00:31:00] Be open to new experiences that come your way. And sometimes the best opportunities come from unexpected places. I’ve heard examples of other people who never thought that they’d be doing the job that they were doing, but it just kinda came out of nowhere and they kept their eyes open for these opportunities.
Yeah, that’s a great thing. But finding a career that aligns with your values and your passions going back to this overall theme of finding your purpose and meaning. In your civilian life. Is It was really important. You know, I think that’s a big piece of it. Because we spent so much time working.
You know, out of the 24 hours a day. A lot of times you’re spending eight or more hours at work. A significant portion of your waking hours are spent. Working and that becomes just like the military was, it becomes a piece of who you are. You know, when a doctor retires or a lawyer retires they have a similar feeling when.
When [00:32:00] they lose that title, they’re. No, they’re not. Doctor or, you know, the they’re not the lawyer anymore. There. There are a retiree. Yeah, maybe the doctor still technically has a doctor. You know, Doctor before their name, but they’re not practicing it anymore. And they sort of lose that sense of identity.
Oh, that who they were for all those years. That they worked so hard for. Same thing with the military.
But be flexible. And find something that, that. Aligns with your values. And you can be proud of that as you’re working. Through that job and that’ll help you. Help you with that sense of purpose. But having a support network in place more than just a professional network, but a support network that can help you too.
Think through and talk through some of the challenges of transitioning into a civilian. Can also help you with that community and sense of belonging. Can seem difficult, especially if you’ve been out for a little while and you’ve been doing that whole isolation [00:33:00] thing that some of us have ever done. We.
Don’t get out. We don’t go do things. Or, you know, when we do go out, we don’t talk to anybody and, you know, hardly make eye contact. But it’s doable.
’cause you know, having people who understand your experiences. Can help you feel less isolated, less alone. It’s very common to feel like you are the only one going through. Certain experiences, but having a support network can remind you. That there are others who have gone through similar situations.
It’s. Partially why this podcast exists. We share stories from other veterans who’ve been in. Difficult situations. They may have been in the same situation that you’re in right now. And they share their stories and they talk about. The difficulties that they had.
And then they talk about how they overcame these things. And.
Hopefully. And some people that [00:34:00] there’s a little spark that tells them, Hey, If that person was able to do this, they went through the same thing that I’m going through. If that person was able to get through this, why can’t I.
You know, the support network can help you cope with stress. And anxiety. As I talked about are already transitioning to civilian. Life is stressful. For a lot of veterans and. It’s essential that you have some people. That you can turn to when you need support. Can provide you with opportunities to socialize and have fun, find things that are interesting to you. There’s.
There’s a common interest. Between the, this group. And being part of a community can pro provide you with that comradery, that sense of belonging. And even sense of purpose to be there for that group. You don’t want to let the group down. Now.
We know. That having a support network is beneficial, but. You know, how do you build one? How do you get a network? Especially when, [00:35:00] gosh, you’ve never left your house. You’d never go anywhere. You never do anything. You never see anyone. You don’t know anybody.
Or the people that you do know. You know, The really want to spend all your time with those people. Right.
I think. First and foremost, I think Jay joining a veteran organization. Is.
A great first step.
Do you speak a common language? There’s common experiences, a common connection. Just like in the military, you’re going to be able to share stories. Yeah, sure. Maybe you served with someone, but they served in another. Unit at one point or another, and they had their experiences from there, but then they came to your unit and you became friends and you were able to create new experiences, same idea with these veteran organizations. And there’s a lot of organizations that are specifically designed to support veterans.
These organizations provide a platform for veterans to connect with other veterans. Build a support network. You can search [00:36:00] in your area for veteran organizations. You can look online. See if there’s any that. Are specifically in line with your interests. There may be more generalized organizations, but there’s some, maybe that are more specific to the interests that you have.
I think. Kind of on the more general side, the American Legion VFW, or a good place to start. But again, your community may have other specific veteran organizations that are focused on. Certain interests or certain types of equity or veterans running group, or you know, Something along those lines.
You can check what your city or town. Even local neighborhoods or through your work. Because they may have a veterans specific groups veteran. There’s a meetup group meeting for coffee meeting up for you know, a beer. The veterans beer club is a group that I had on the podcast. A few months ago talked about.
[00:37:00] Despite the fact that it’s called the veterans beer club, it sounds like it’s a drinking club. It’s actually a networking group. It’s a, like a professional networking group and yeah, sure. You get together and you have a beer, but. But it’s not a drinking club per se. It’s a thing that you. You get together once a month.
Not a huge time commitment, a couple hours at night and go hang out, have a beer and meet some new people. Maybe the, some of those people are going to be. You know, Incredible people in your lives. Maybe some of them are going to be duds. You know, but you won’t know unless you get out there and give it a try. So, you know, you only that much to yourself to have that sort of a group there.
There’s also events that you can attend that are of interest to you. It could be anything, it could be a concert, could be a fitness class. It could be a volunteer event. And those are good ways to meet new people who share similar interests and values. You know, if you’re going to.
You know, a concert.
It’s pretty clear that the [00:38:00] people who are at that concert are into the same type of music that you are. Right. You know, fitness class. Pretty clear that people in that fitness class are into fitness. Right. If that’s something that’s of interest to you can do that. And you know, make connections at those places too.
The people who are in the group don’t have to necessarily be veterans. It’d be great if they were, but they don’t have to be. You may not even want to associate with veterans. Quite frankly, I’ve been talking about veteran organizations and all that kind of stuff that you may not want to associate with veterans. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience in the military and you just want to find.
A group of people who are. Like-minded. Like similar things. Not necessarily veterans. It could be, but they don’t have to be. You know, so you might have an interest in a sport or an outdoor activity or some other activity. That you can find other like-minded people there’s shoe store near where I live a few miles away. And.
They have a calendar of events where they have these[00:39:00] different nights of the week. They go out for a run. With a group of people and, you know, It’s just a way to get people together. And those people are all into running. It’s pretty easy because it’s a. The store basically sells running shoes. So, the people who are their customers are very likely going to be the people who would like to be in a group like that.
So, you know, what. For opportunities like that. Goat. The different businesses that you go to around your town. They may have other groups of. People who do things that you might be interested in? You know, even a coffee shop that you might go to, there might be. You know, a flyer for a veteran meetup.
Just for coffee. Monday morning at. Eight o’clock for an hour or half hour, whatever it is, just meeting up with a bunch of people. You know, sitting around having a cup of coffee, you’re going to do that probably anyways. So might as well get out there and meet some of these people.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach [00:40:00] out to friends and family. And sometimes we. Don’t think about the people who are closest to us when we’re trying to build a support network and. There might be people out there. In your network that you already have that. They already know what you’re going through. They know you might be having a tough time.
Transitioning. Into the civilian life. And that might be able to help you with some support or introduce you to people that maybe they know that can have.
Kinda help you out. They probably know your interests and your values, your beliefs, and all that kind of stuff. And they might know other people who are in a similar. S situation and they may be able to introduce you to those people. And I think. If you are struggling though, with this. There may be some other underlying mental health issues.
And I wouldn’t. Eliminate that possibility of seeking out professional help. If you’re struggling with mental health issues. Definitely seek out that help many organizations out there that [00:41:00] provide mental health support for veterans. The VA included. But speaking with a mental health professional can help you provide the tools and resources to manage that mental health and build a support network.
There’s a lot of benefits. We talked a little bit about volunteering, but there’s a lot of benefits to volunteering for not only yourself, but also for the community that you live in. And volunteering can be a great way to connect with others and build your support network. So it kind of has like a twofold approach here.
And when you’re volunteering, you’re surrounded by people who. Share the values and interests that you have. You’re part of a team. That is working towards a goal. Sounds kind of like the military, right. And this can be a great way to meet new people. Make friends make connections in the community in volunteering.
Can also help you develop new skills. Like I was talking about earlier gaining experience. For your career. Maybe you’re interested in a particular field or an industry, but you don’t have any experience in that industry. So volunteering can give you the opportunity to learn some [00:42:00] skills, gain some hands-on experience, make you more marketable to employers.
Sort of like an internship, like I mentioned before But it also can make you feel more connected to your community, especially when you are feeling so disconnected because you’ve been isolated. You haven’t gotten out of your house into the community. Very often, or if you haven’t really interacted with people volunteering can help you feel more connected to the community. And as a veteran,
You might feel like you don’t belong. In civilian society. But by volunteering, you can become a participant in the community and feel like you’re making a difference. It could be especially important if you’re struggling with feelings of isolation or. Disconnection from other people. Doing things like cleaning a park or volunteering as a coach or a number of other things.
I can help you. Form a connection to that community. Or We’re in event too. Community that you. Left two years ago.
There’s a lot of different ways to [00:43:00] volunteer. So I’m sure you can probably find something that aligns with your values and your interests. Maybe you’re passionate about helping the homeless or you want to work with children. Maybe you’re interested in environmental issues or you want to support veterans.
Who are struggling with mental health issues. Whatever it is that your interests are. There’s something out there that you can volunteer to do. Now. The question is how do you find volunteer opportunities? There’s a few ways that you can do this first. Look online. There are websites that list, volunteer opportunities.
One of them is volunteer match. And another one is idealist. And I’ll have links to these in the show notes, but these websites allow you to search for opportunities based on your location, your interests, your availability. And gives you. You do stuff. Local to your area that you can help out and volunteer with. Another way is to contact nonprofit organizations in your area [00:44:00] directly.
A lot of non-profits are looking for volunteers and they may not even have those opportunities listed on their website. Or on their social media or anywhere online. So you can reach out to those organizations. You can also reach out to your local government. To find out about volunteer opportunities near your community. Like.
Coaching youth sports or cleaning up. You know, a park or something else in, in going on in your community and what’s the new found this opportunity. And it’s something that interests you. It’s important to be. I’m committed. Be reliable, just like the military show up. Do the work.
Treat it almost like a job. Show up on time. Be ready to work. Be open to learning new things. Taking on new challenges, things that maybe you haven’t done before. But be proud of the work that you’re doing and the impact that you’re making on your community. With that said, though,
You. Likely won’t be getting paid for the work that you’re doing, especially if it’s volunteer work. So you’ll also need to set [00:45:00] boundaries and limits for what you’re willing to and able to do. And you still need to have time for work. And for rest. So you can’t offer up that you’re going to volunteer 40 hours a week. If you already have a 40 hour week job and you have you know, something else that you got going on, you have.
You know, kids and a wife or, you know, something like that at home that you need to have time for as well. So, you know, make sure that your time. Is not going a hundred percent out to everything else because you need some time for yourself as well. But it can be a great way for for you as a veteran to connect with other people.
To help you develop skills. And feel connected to your communities. And it gives you a sense of pride in what you’re doing, make you feel like you’re making a difference in the lives of other people in your community. And even in your own life and helping yourself find purpose and meaning.
In in your civilian. Life
I briefly touched on. Getting professional help, like mental health [00:46:00] support.
Kind of want to touch on that a little bit more. I think first seeking professional help, Ken.
Provide you with a safe, nonjudgmental place to share your thoughts, your feelings, your. Your emotions and this can be especially important if you’re feeling like you can’t open up to your family or your friends, or you don’t have. People in your community and your network quite yet, that you can talk to about the things that you’re feeling.
And so a professional can provide you with a supportive and confidential environment. Where you can speak freely. And work through any of the challenges that you may be facing. No, one’s going to judge you. No, one’s gonna make fun of you. No, one’s gonna ridicule you. Like you’re not. You’re not losing anything by going and talking to somebody.
And they can help provide some clarity. But it can also provide you with access to. D resources and treatment options that you may not necessarily have, [00:47:00] even if you do have somebody that you can talk to a friend, a family member if they’re not a mental health professional themselves, they may not be able to provide you with.
The different therapy options, like, the things that are designed to help. Navigate. Some of the challenges that you might be going through in your mind. And they can also connect you with support groups. And again, that’s creating that sense of community and Introducing you.
To new people. Different wellness programs and other resources that can help you on your way transitioning into civilian life. It also can help identify any underlying mental health conditions like depression or anxiety that might be contributing with your struggles to find a purpose and meaning after your military career.
You know, especially if you are dealing with a lot of anxiety you may just not. Be able to get out. And you may not want to do any of that type of stuff. So. These things are common amongst veterans, and it’s important [00:48:00] that you go out and get the help that you need to manage them. So that way you can take that next step and get out there and get involved in the community and start to reintegrate into that civilian life.
And it can also help you develop a plan of action to achieve those goals that you might have for yourself, finding a sense of purpose, sense of meaning. In your civilian life. They can help you identify. Things like your values and your interests and your strengths. And use that to help guide your career decisions, your life decisions your community, your whatever it is that you’re looking for. They can help you develop strategies to overcome.
Stress and anxiety and other things that you might have going on. So. I mean. We’ve gone through a lot of stuff here throughout this episode, we talked about. We covered a lot of ground. Talking about challenges that veterans face when transitioning to civilian life. And the strategies for finding a purpose and meaning.
And the importance of identifying your personal values and your passions. We talked about [00:49:00] understanding these things. To help find a career that aligns with your interests and provides you with the sense of purpose and the significance of exploring these different interests and trying new things to Brighton.
To broaden your horizons and discover your passions. Talked about building a support network. And career opportunities talked about. Community involvement and volunteering.
All of these things, I think. All play together. You may not need to necessarily focus on every single one of these, but if there’s a piece that’s missing in your life that may be beneficial to you to check out. Some of these resources and try to maybe focus on some of the things. That are out there that maybe you hadn’t necessarily been thinking about. So I hope you found this.
Episode helpful and informative. Remember finding purpose and meaning and post military life and your civilian life is a journey. It’s not a light switch. It’s not going to just happen overnight. And. By flipping a switch. It’s okay to go find [00:50:00] support and resources. Identify those values in your passions.
Get a support network. Stay open-minded be adaptable. Explore different opportunities and get involved with your community.
Thank you for listening.
Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.