If there is one thing military members and spouses are good at it’s saying goodbye. I’m certain that I could give a pretty decent public presentation on the art of saying Goodbye to friends and family on a regular basis. As cliche as it is, it never really is goodbye. It’s see ya later, because if there is one thing that the military culture brings to the table that the civilian lifestyle lacks its long lasting friendships.
In my ten years as a military spouse I have made friends that are undoubtedly life long. I thought I made these friendships in high school, and in my early 20’s and I did to a certain extent, but there is something quite distinct about the two.
It may be that we are getting older and our military days are getting shorter, regardless I have noticed that although our goodbyes are the same, the hope that we will be stationed somewhere close to those who have become our chosen family has decreased quite a bit. It isn’t so much that people are moving to a new duty station its more that people are transitioning out of the military either for retirement or personal accounts. Once families transition out they typically find their forever home and chances are it won’t be near a military instillation. The more I see this happen the more I wonder how civilian life really is for the military member and their family.
While working with military personnel that were being medically discharged I witnessed on a day to day basis the struggles and stress that this transition brings to an individual and their family. Of course the military provides uncountable resources for military personnel. Theres the Transition Assistance Program (TAPs) that the DoD provides. It’s a week long class that assists the member and their spouse going from military to civilian life. It provides resume building, job hunting, tuition assistance for college and more. We have Veterans Affairs that is just the umbrella over endless resources for example, Veterans Employment Center (VECs) and the Veterans Employment Training Services (VETS) and much more. But, just like anything else I can’t help but wonder how effective these resources are. Of all the military members I have encountered either professionally or in my personal life I have only been fortunate enough to keep up with a handful of them after their days of serving have ended. It leaves me wondering what happened to everyone else.
What happened to that incredibly accomplished young airman that was no longer allowed to serve because of a medical issue, despite his exceptional physical training history and his lengthy list of awards? What happened to the older gentleman that suffered from severe PTSD due to multiple trips over seas? Or, the one that will stick with me forever – the spouse of the man that died from liver disease?
After some networking and research I connected with Mr. Brian Niswander, an Air Force veteran with a long history working and training military personnel that will soon take off their uniform for the last time. Brian is leading a project that gathers information from those that are currently serving in hopes of helping our future veteran population.
You can find more information regarding the work Brian and his team are doing at Military-Transition.org. The main source of data is being collected through a survey where you remain completely anonymous and it takes less than ten minutes. Click here to go straight to the survey, however I do suggest reading and learning more about the work and efforts being made by this organization.
What I love most about the work being done at Military-Transition.org is that its a proactive approach instead of a reactive attack. Hind sight is 20/20 and human nature makes it simple to sit back and say what we would have, and should have done differently in situations. It is rare that we see effective preventative measures being taken especially in such a large capacity such as our military.
“Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.”
Please take a moment to check out the website and share this information with your military friends and family. It’s quick, it’s easy, and most importantly it has huge benefits for our veterans.