The best years of your life, at least in retrospect, were spent humping around a bunch of gear with your buddies and taking the fight to the enemy. You had purpose - and that purpose included being a badass operating with a bunch of like-minded badasses. Your drug of choice - adrenaline rush of a firefight and the pride in walking the valley as the most dangerous dude for miles. You were unstoppable and so were the men you served with.
Then it all came to a screeching halt at ACAP.
What you experienced in those too short years of your life can never be effectively articulated to outsiders. They will never understand how great you were, what you accomplished, and the feeling of belonging and purpose.
With an average of 22 combat veterans killing themselves per day, we must ask ourselves and each other 'what the hell is going on here?'. To most, this shockingly high number is just a statistic. To some of us, it is an understanding. An understanding of the struggle the vast majority of us go through post-military.
The feelings of loneliness, life without purpose, and none of your fellow Warfighters in sight can cause depression and despair. That needs to stop. Right here, right now.
Whether you know it or not (and whether hiring managers, family members, or society recognizes), you have developed superior skills while serving in the military and it is time to make people see that. But the first person who needs to see is you.
I will keep this entry short so as to get to an important point (and because some of this audience has the attention span of a toddler): stop living in the past. There is absolutely NO time in existence except Now. The job you did overseas and in garrison while in the military does not define who you are. That is what you DID. Who are you right NOW? If you are constantly thinking that you are Corporal so and so kicking ass in Paktika province, you are doing yourself a disservice. The person you are is right here, right now.
And that is just fine. You'll survive your Present Self if you don't become a statistic.
Enjoying what you have NOW and living your life mentally in the Present is one key to being a happier person. If your mind is constantly living past moments, it opens the gates to depression. If you are constantly thinking about how happy you can and will be in the future 'if this one thing happens', you are opening your mind up to anxiety. Neither are awesome, but you are. Be an awesome person right NOW, during each and every moment of your life. Because the past and the future do not even exist. There is only now.
Some thoughts by Eckhart Tolle. Please Google Mr. Tolle and read more about his writings:
1. You are not your thoughts. You are the awareness behind the thoughts. Thoughts are often negative and painful, yearning for or fearing something in the future, complaining about something in the present or fearing a matter from the past. However, the thoughts are not you; they are a construct of the ego. Awareness of your thoughts without being caught up in them is the first step to freedom.
2. Only the present moment exists. That is where life is (indeed it is the only place life can truly be found). Becoming aware of the 'now' has the added benefit that it will draw your attention away from your (negative) thoughts. Use mindfulness techniques to fully appreciate your surroundings and everything you are experiencing. Look and listen intently. Give full attention to the smallest details.
3. Accept the present moment. It is resistance to the present moment that creates most of the difficulties in your life. However, acceptance does not mean that you cannot take action to rectify the situation you are in. What is important is to drop resistance so that you let the moment be, and that any action arises from deeper awareness rather than from resistance. The vast majority of pain in a person's life comes from resistance to what is.
4. Observe the pain-body. Years of conditioned thought patterns, individually and collectively, have resulted in habitual emotional reactions with an apparent personality of their own. During 'pain-body attacks' we become completely identified with this 'pain identity' and respond from its agenda--which is to create more pain for ourselves and others. Observing the pain-body is awareness itself arising--as it allows humans to separate from this unconscious identification with pain.
“Enlightenment means choosing to dwell in the state of presence rather than in time. It means saying yes to what is.” -– Eckhart Tolle
Get out there, experience things, be a selfless person, and enjoy the journey.