Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) recognizes and honors the sacrifices of those who have served and are serving in the United States Armed Forces.
Transition to civilian life can lead to various challenges, including academic, social, physical, financial, emotional, and relational.
Common symptoms may include the following:
- Recurring and intrusive memories and/or dreams of the event
- Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were happening
- Intense distress in response to cues resembling some aspects of the event
- Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations related to the event
- Diminished interest in participating in important or previously enjoyable activities
- Feeling detachment or estrangement from others
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hypervigilance and being easily startled by noises and movements
- Abuse of alcohol or other drugs
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviors
- Feelings of paranoia without any real evidence that others have ill intentions
Suggestions for a Successful Transition
Fortunately, there are a number of steps that veterans can take to put their military experience into perspective and regain a sense of control and normalcy. Among the recommendations to facilitate a successful transition to civilian and academic lives are:
- Pay attention to physical well-being. Eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest, and build physical activity into daily life.
- Seek balance in life. The experience of combat can make veterans jaded and pessimistic. Balance that viewpoint by focusing on people and events which are meaningful, comforting, and encouraging.
- Limit use of alcohol and illegal substances. Use of these substances increases the likelihood of depression, insomnia, relationship problems, academic difficulties, legal troubles and a host of other negative issues.
- Appreciate a sense of humor in yourself and others. Humor relieves stress, produces body chemicals that improve mood, and helps us to gain a more balanced perspective. Do not postpone joy and laughter should they come your way.
- Limit exposure to war-related news reports (e.g., news channels, newspapers, Web sites, etc.). While keeping informed of developments is important, the 24/7 media machine typically ignores stories of heroism, resilience, and sacrifice and instead focuses on the most horrific images and troubling accounts.