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Tactical Veteran: Ask for help when transitioning back to civilian life

Aug. 26, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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So many of us find ourselves at a point where life just has to change. Transitioning from the military, changing careers, starting college later in life, ending a bad relationship, or changing the way we behave or the way we live ó these are just a few of the situations you may face.

As soon as we decide that change must happen, we quickly realize it wonít be easy. It will take patience, time and often support from others to work toward a new path in life that we hope will bring us success and happiness.

Coming home after serving in the military, you may face many challenges. For those of you who have seen combat and are now re-entering the civilian world, you will face more challenges than someone like me, who is not a combat veteran.

You may be dealing with a plethora of issues that you will have to work on in order to grow and prosper in the civilian world. As I have mentioned before in this space, as a civilian, it is up to you to make the decisions, not the military.

I recently worked with a Marine, a wounded veteran who has seen numerous combat deployments and has the stories, scars and pains to prove it. He suffers from post-traumatic stress and insomnia and has seen his marriage fall apart.

But this Marine wonít give up. Today, heís getting the help he needs to improve his quality of life ó working hard at a technical school to learn a new trade and enter a new career field. Itís unlikely he would be able to complete his education and find a job without reaching out for help.

Some of you will return home feeling unchanged, only to later feel the effects of serving in combat. When faced with having to make a change, some of you may find yourselves at a breaking point. But we were taught to never give up. Change doesnít come easy, nor does it happen quickly, but having determination, support and knowledge of the resources that can help you will allow for a smoother transition.

We all have times when we fear what change will bring. When I separated from the military, I knew I would have to change, not only as a person but as a student. The times of putting off studying and school work were over; now, as an adult, I realized what life expects of me.

I had to change my way of thinking and tell myself that what I was about to go through ó six years of college and finding employment in a tough economy ó would not be easy. But in the end I accomplished it, and you can get there too. Now I can honestly say those changes were for the better.

I learned you canít fear change if it truly is what you want in life. Be prepared for a possible long road and tough times, but know that the rewards that lie ahead will be worth it all.

Steven Maieli is the founder of, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veteransí issues at
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