Putting the Civilian Back into the Soldier

Making the Transition


We invest years and millions of dollars toward the difficult process of transforming civilians into soldiers. So why is there so little being done to help the soldier return to his or her civilian life?


Making a career move can be a frightening and overwhelming experience for an American soldier.  Leaving the military to move into the civilian world can seem even more challenging.


Many soldiers are coming home from the war and getting extremely frustrated with themselves because they were not able to manage as they did before when they were civilians.


Researchers found about 19 percent of returning service members report that they experienced a possible traumatic brain injury while deployed, with 7 percent reporting both a probable brain injury and PTSD or major depression.


Those numbers provide just a glimpse into the problem. Many soldiers do not go to VA hospitals or prefer to seek private help.  Often they do not seek treatment for psychological illnesses because they fear it will harm their careers. But even among those who do seek help for PTSD or major depression, about half receive treatment that researchers consider “simply insufficient” for their illnesses.


One of the problems is many veterans are reluctant to take that first step. The easier it is to gain access to treatment, and the more socially acceptable it is for veterans to look for help, the more likely they may feel comfortable enough to acknowledge the problem and look for solutions. However, in order for our soldiers to get better these services have to be made more available first.


What they are finding is that many soldiers are so determined to jump back into civilian life, that they ignore the emotional scars left on them after returning from active duty. This of course only heightens the problems as they become more emotionally unstable.  As a result, they are unable to hold a job, have relationships, and take care of their families and kids at home.


There is a major health crisis facing these men and women who have served our nation, but we can change this by getting the government to provide more funding so we can establish the right programs to get them on their feet.


One problem we face is that unless a soldier asks for help, there is a good chance he will never receive it. Although postwar emotional problems are more widely understood than ever before, only a third of troubled veterans seek care. Early intervention is critical for treatment.


I believe we should make it mandatory that soldiers are tested before they retire from the military and go into the civilian world.


The military needs to be proactive about mental health. Did you know that suicide is very high among soldiers returning from the war?  Many soldiers have killed themselves since returning home. While the government hasn’t completely ignored the issue, it has not done nearly enough.


More has to be done for our precious soldiers.


I believe we should have group-counseling programs available in all fifty states; enough so all veterans would have access to get to them.  The government should fund these programs and they should be run by professionals so they receive the appropriate therapy to help them make a healthy transition in to civilian live.


Other countries have started this and they are noticing a decrease in veterans and soldier’s depression and an increase in their confidence and self-esteem after they complete the intensive group counseling.


Soldiers and veterans who participate in this program are also showing better relationships with their families and their workplaces. It is clear that the program is helping peacekeepers re-integrate into civilian life.



Stacey Chillemi, is a highly versatile author, freelance writer and speaker with more a decade of experience. She is an award winning writer, motivational, inspirational, and self-help speaker. She was the managing editor for the magazine UZURI and worked for a major television network. She has been featured in Woman’s World Magazine, the New Jersey Star Ledger, and the Asbury Park Press. Her website is http://www.authorsden.com/staceydchillemi and http://stores.lulu.com/staceychil


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