My husband was in the Marines for 7 years. He loved his job and did it well. However, all good things come to an end. We decided that it was time for him to get out and start a new chapter.
I will be honest. I thought it was a huge deal, but not in the correct way. I thought it was huge and exciting, not huge and scary. We had a plan prior to him getting out, and I didn’t think much else of it.
I was wrong.
While it was huge and exciting, it was also huge and (very) scary for him. I made the mistake of being ignorant of this.
Getting out of the military is scary. Aside from the loss of a paycheck, there is a loss of identity. For 7 years, my husband was a Marine. He worked with his best friends, some he went into combat zones with in Afghanistan. They have a bond like nothing else. Leaving means he loses that connection. Yes, they can still text (which they do), but these are men and women that he would see almost daily. He spent way more time with them than me, especially since we only lived together 5 months of those 7 years.
How can you support your loved one through this time?
- Be aware of that this sadness happens: Just knowing of this issue helps as you can keep an eye on the situation.
- Talk about it: Get your loved one to talk about their feelings. Keep asking questions. Do not let them shut down.
- Help them adjust: Find out what they need from you. What can help them feel like they belong in this new life?
- Make sure they do not feel alone: This can be a time of loneliness. They can feel like no one else feels the way that they do. While you cannot act from experience, be there for them, even if it is just laying in bed and watching a movie.
- If it persists, suggest that they speak to a counselor, particularly one with military experience: My husband ended up have a couple sessions with a local psychologist that was ex-military. This helped him a lot.
I hope this helps you support your loved one as they settle into their new life.