One of the saddest side effects of military service is that it changes people, even in those that have never seen combat they too are affected subtly, but nonetheless, there are effects. Military service changes personality and it is no secret that battlefield trauma can leave veterans with deep emotional scars that impact their ability to function in civilian life. It is truly so sad that these effects are not just always temporary but can last a lifetime.
Research coming out of Washington University in St. Louis has said that military service without combat has subtle effects on personalities and potentially it is harder for veterans to get along with family, friends, and those they work with.
“Our results suggest that personality traits play an important role in military training, both in the sort of men who are attracted to the military in the first place and in the lasting impact that this service has on an individual’s outlook on life,” says study lead author Joshua J. Jackson, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences.
VINCENT “ROCCO” VARGAS wrote a compelling piece about his struggles when he came home referencing his drinking issues and losing his family. He writes on the “5 Stages of Veteran Transition”:
- Veteran with entitlement
“This is the one who is always looking for a handout, looking for the government to help them because it’s what’s owed to them for serving their country. This is the one who forgets that his service to the country was a volunteer decision, and nobody owes him anything.“
2. Veteran with self-pity
“This is a tough one, a lot of us lost friends in some way. This is the one who holds on to the anniversary dates for a reason to get trashed, and feels bad because he is still living. Survivors guilt: the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. This is the one who doesn’t realize he is wasting the very life his friend would have done anything for one more day of. What little respect he is actually showing his friend by wasting his life on guilt and pity. It’s time to grow, time to move forward; if not for you, for them.”
3. Veteran with identity issues
“This one holds on to their military years as if that’s what defines him. He holds on to being Infantry as if anyone in the civilian world really cares. These are the Al Bundys of the veteran world – they scored four touchdowns in one game but are now miserable shoe salesmen. They hold on to what they did and don’t realize it honestly means nothing if you aren’t doing anything now.”
4. Veteran who feels like being a veteran makes them better than the rest of society
“This veterans feels that because they served, it makes them better than the person who didn’t. They think they are better and deserve more. They don’t realize the civilian world also deals with PTSD, loss, and depression, and that civilians also have transitions in life and fall on hard times. We are all human and all have our own stuff, but most people don’t look down on others for that. They find peace and continue moving forward, building lifelong bonds with people who care and can relate. They live knowing we all have our issues and we all find ways of getting through them.“
5. The veteran who gets through these stages to realize he is a civilian now, a civilian who has tools he learned in the military. And that these tools can make him successful. (Source)
There are even more facts of interest to read regarding how the brain of military servicemen has changed after Afghanistan. There are many hardships and compelling facts and stories regarding the veterans of war and veterans during peacetime.
I will leave you with what my father used to say an Army Veteran of the Korean War, “Old soldiers fade away …” and when he died I realized that an “Old soldier will never really fade away …” My dad never did he is always present.
To all the men and women that have served our nation thank you for your service and I hope only the best for each and everyone that still struggles with their ghosts.