Basic training lasted a minimum of 10 weeks. There you were transformed from a civilian into a soldier. You were trained how to cope with emotions and physical stress. You were taught to expect the unexpected, to push past pain and to react to the most indescribable horror that war can bring. Two time winner of the Congress Medal of Honor said it perfectly in 1939 when he stated,
“Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken from the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to ‘about face,’ to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder, and through mass psychology they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed. Then suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another ‘about face.’ This time they had to do their own readjusting without mass psychology, without officers’ aid and advice, without nation-wide propaganda. We didn’t need them anymore. So we scattered them about without any speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed mentally, because they could not make that final ‘about face’ alone.”
(Written between WWI and WWII…)
At Military and Veteran Counseling Center, we help you transition back from an adrenaline filled, disciplined life. We can assist you in finding your strengths and the benefits of your military life while helping you change the things that will not be helpful for you in your life as a civilian. We can help you find ways to make your military service work for you, not against you.
My partner says I’m different. What do I do?
Every veteran was trained to kill, but how many people were trained to live with that? During your service, putting up an emotional wall was imperative for survival not only for yourself, but for the others around you. Over time, these emotional barriers can cause strains within relationships and create detachment – including putting people and circumstances at a distance. After returning from service, you may notice a larger gap between you and others. You may feel numb and unable to really feel happy or sad. Living life is about truly feeling. We can help you get that back.
After serving my country I realized I’m angry all the time. What’s wrong with me?
The military taught you to deal with problems using combat tactics. When situations are frustrating or upsetting, you may naturally resort to wanting to fight, eliminate someone or run in the other direction. Reintegration training may be necessary to help you learn how to negotiate peacefully and find a middle ground. You may be afraid of the person you have become. Most troops will return home with serious signs of stress, including hyper-alertness, sleep disturbances, numbness, anxiety and frustration. These can be a signs of PTSD. You don’t have to live with these symptoms. Living with them doesn’t “make you stronger.” The Military and Veteran Counseling Center has success in helping many veterans get rid of symptoms in a short amount of time, helping them move on with their lives.
What if I just feel numb? How do I feel again?
Serving our country can result in many conflicting emotions. You may be dealing with guilt or feel that your service was not what you expected it would be. You also may have regrets about things that you were asked to do and aren’t sure how to live life with the choices you had to make. Maybe you feel inadequate because you were never in a combat situation. Those who did serve in combat situations may have experienced death of friends, as well as the harsh realities of having to kill not only enemy soldiers but also civilians, women and children. You may have been tortured or tortured others and wonder how anyone could possibly understand what you went through or what you did. In the extreme stress of combat you may have regrets of how you reacted. Over time, you learned to put up the emotional barriers that were necessary to save your life and help you cope and now you don’t know how to take those barriers down. We have worked with many veterans that need reintegration therapy and have found that it was beneficial in helping them feel again and process the past so that they can move on.
My relationships aren’t the same since I served my country. What do I do?
We understand you may feel that you returned feeling different then when you left. Chances are individuals that are close to you may notice the same thing. You may feel stuck and unsure about how to reconnect or even relax long enough to allow that to happen. Sometimes you may not even notice a difference, but others do. The changes that have occurred within you have most likely happened over a period of time while you were away and were so gradual that you didn’t realize they even occurred. You may feel like you don’t want to subject your loved ones to the realities of war so you have closed off and “stuffed it down” like you were trained to do. Over time, this creates distance and strain in relationships. It can cause you and others to feel disconnected. You may be suffering in silence because you think this is what you are supposed to do and that talking to someone makes you weak. We have worked with individuals who have chosen this pathway and after 40 years are still carrying around the heavy burdens of war. Through readjustment counseling, however, many are finally able to work through these issues and oftentimes leave our office wondering why they didn’t come sooner so they could feel the peace and relief that therapy can provide.
How can the Military and Veteran Counseling Center help?
We can help you take back the life you feel you once had. We have tools that we can help you apply to reduce symptoms. We can educate you and your loved ones on the reintegration process so that you can work together as a team. We are ready to help. We invite you to contact us with any questions about readjustment counseling and our practice. We offer a free, confidential consultation with a licensed therapist so we can begin to bring peace back into your life.
The experience of watching a loved one suffer from difficulties of readjustment can take its toll. Many civilians find they, too, could benefit from counseling. If you’re a civilian and are concerned both about your loved one and yourself, consider Civilian Counseling.