By Joe Silva
So many Veterans today are suffering– alone. Veterans from all eras are struggling from afflictions such as PTSD or a service-connected disability, or from unemployment, underemployment, lack of fulfillment in their civilian lives, and just the general pressures of life.
Military conditioning teaches service members not to share personal problems, to keep things inside, and deal with them on their own. But once they separate, too many Veterans carry on that mentality. While putting aside your problems for the sake of your unit was a necessary sacrifice of your service, it is unhealthy for Veterans to continue to go it alone. That is why Veterans are encouraged to congregate with fellow Vets as much as they can.
U.S. Military Veterans have a suicide rate of 22 per day. In many cases, suicide is seen as the only option for those who feel alone in their struggle. But why feel alone, when your comrades are there, and are probably experiencing many of the same challenges?
Veterans are encouraged to seek community in any way that suits their comfortzone. There are Veteran Service Organizations that offer a sense of Veteran comradery, patriotism, and social belonging. These organizations also exist to assist Veterans with obtaining their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other government entities. This assistance is free, and does not require the Veteran in need to be a member of their organization. These organizations include: The American Legion, AMVets, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
Membership in these organizations can require dues, volunteer work and social commitment. And not every Veteran is willing to dedicate their time energy or money to a club, which is fine. These Veterans are encouraged to still seek out Veteran community in other ways.
One of the most convenient ways to connect with other Veterans is through social media groups. There are dozens of Veteran and service member groups that are both paid member websites or free groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites. Some groups are general, while others can be branch or even command specific. But these groups are a great way to connect with other Veterans who have been through what you’ve been through. Whether you are interested in catching up with your old service buddies to reminisce about the glory days, seeking advice from comrades, or professionally networking, these groups are great for Veterans who don’t want to feel alone.
Believe it or not, Veterans are members of an American culture all their own. This culture has its own values, belief systems language and experiences. Veterans are encouraged not to shrug off their culture, but embrace it. Just like how people feel more at ease with others who share their religion or ethnicity, many Veterans feel more at ease with members of their own Veteran culture.
If you are a Veteran, make sure that you are embracing your culture and connecting with other Veterans.
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Military Connection: Embracing Your Veteran Culture: By Joe Silva