The United States military invests almost unlimited time, energy, and financial resources in a well thought out, highly-structured program that takes civilians and turns them into Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coasties. With heads held high and backs straight, we went forward with our Battle Buddies and did our jobs with pride in our ability to Accomplish the Mission. And yet, when that service is finished and after we have shined, cleaned and turned in all our TA-50 (do they still call it TA-50?), one of the first post-service things we experience is a missionectomy: the seemingly permanent removal of the guiding force that has been with us 24/7/365…for years.
I’m a Desert Storm veteran who felt lost and mission-less when he left the service in 1992. I’ve had a good life as a husband and business person, but in 2017 I realized making a living by going to work each day was no longer enough: I needed my mission back. So I enrolled in the Master of Military Social Work program at Walden University so I can earn the qualifications to work closely with my fellow veterans as they transition to and/or struggle to regain their mission as civilians.
My vision for VetStrong is to create a well thought out, highly-structured program that will complete the process the military started: creating an environment where Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coasties can work together to become as mission-oriented and successful at being civilians as we felt when we were fresh out of our initial training: short hair, straight backs, and a gleam in our eyes they could see for miles.
Whether it is a matter of maturity and additional life experience, or the burden of a ruck full of traumatic memories, survivor’s guilt, and moral injury, the people we are when we leave the military are not the people we were when we entered the military. We need a process of AIT2 (Advanced Individual Training Phase 2), where we complete the transition from service member to civilian…and get our mission back. If you agree, please help me build this online community, resource portal, and training program for all of us and our families. I’m looking for suggestions, existing resources to link to, and partners who are willing to roll up their sleeves and create a movement we can all be proud of. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.